What. A. Game.
It was nice to watch a basketball game involving the Memphis Grizzlies and be impressed with the level of play between both teams on the floor. The San Antonio Spurs were on a heater of their own coming in to FedExForum Friday night, having beaten two Eastern Conference elites (the Bucks and the Celtics) by double digits in their last two outings. Memphis of course has been playing better over the last month or so, and this contest was a test of both team’s current state of being. It turns out that not only were these Grizzlies up to the challenge, they took the best shot at times from a talented and well-coached Spurs team and were able to not just counter but deliver knockout blows.
Your Memphis Grizzlies are somehow the eight seed in the Western Conference entering the weekend. The young Grizzlies aren’t just ahead of schedule. They’re ahead of the rebuild curve at the moment. They’re showing that on any given night they’re capable of competing with rosters that are supposed to be superior to them. And even if you bring your A or near-A game, you can be bested by the young bears of Beale Street.
Some quick takeaways from the 134-121 victory, the 4th in the row for the Grizzlies.
- De’Anthony Melton needs to be on our GBBLive podcast more often. Melton joined our flagship show this week (listen here) and then went on to having perhaps his best game as a member of the Grizzlies just days later. Coincidence? Doubters and haters may say so. 13 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and a presence on both ends of the floor that allows for Memphis to not just maintain leads without starting wings in the game, but build upon them. Melton was a terrific guest on the show, and a terrific piece of the Grizzlies performance against the Spurs. Here’s to hoping he’s in the long-term plans of Memphis.
- The emphasis on the offensive glass was noticeable. Memphis won the battle with the Spurs on the offensive glass 11 to 5, and that led to much needed second chances that the Grizzlies were able to convert. San Antonio is actually a pretty solid rebounding team (4th in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage entering the game), but 27 2nd chance points from the Grizzlies in this one really hurt the Spurs. Memphis attacked the strength of San Antonio and won the battle. That’s impressive.
- It’s not like the Spurs played poorly. When San Antonio was out of position defensively, it was usually because of effective dribble penetration and impressive kickout passes from the like of Ja Morant (22 points, 14 assists, 2 turnovers). The Spurs had a good night assisting on shots (29), Memphis just was that much more efficient (an absurd 39). San Antonio shot better than their averages across the board. They made 16 threes. They were able to play their game, for the most part. The Grizzlies were just that much better on this night.
The suddenly playoff contending Memphis is back in action Sunday as they welcome the weakened Golden State Warriors to FedExForum for an early evening tip. The game starts at 5:00 PM CT.