In an absolute must-win for the Memphis Grizzlies, the team showed up for a statement victory 119-106 over the Milwaukee Bucks. It may have been a shorthanded squad for the Bucks, but the Grizzlies had a historic day with both Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas notching triple doubles. It is the first time in franchise history two Grizzlies have had a triple double in one contest. It was the perfect game to have this historic feat occur.
Everything was clicking right out of the gate for the Grizzlies as they took control early in this one. It was actually the Grizzlies’ second wire-to-wire win of the season. Any time the Bucks brought it close, Memphis hit big shots to extend the lead out again. Everyone was consistently making the extra pass that found the open man for highwe percentage shots. Memphis finished the game with 36 assists, which is the exact formula for victory moving forward. Of course you won’t have two triple doubles each game, but making the extra pass will always help the offense get into its groove.
The Grizzlies also knew the way to beat the Bucks even without Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee lives and dies on the three ball on both sides of the court, so the Grizzlies countered with some solid perimeter defense early on in this game and hitting the three-point shots they found. A simple formula, but it is the one that Coach Taylor Jenkins knows all too well. It was an all-important win for this team as they go in to Saturday against Portland.
Now, here are the grades:
Ja Morant- A
This game was such a great example of how Morant will develop as a superstar over the next few seasons. He understands his game so well that even in a showing where he struggled to find his shooting rhythm, he finishes with a triple double. Morant was a facilitator who was doing his best to help his teammates excel. That was finding Dillon Brooks’ hot hand or a rolling JV cutting to the basket. Then, in the second half, he found something just hitting easy runners to get back into the groove.
Ja Morant stepped up for the Grizzlies when the team need him the most and put up a monstrous all-around performance. He finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. Morant was aggressive and on a mission going and grabbing the win while holding all of his teammates accountable. It is just another step of growth from the soon-to-be Rookie of the Year.
Dillon Brooks- A
After all is said and done with this one, Dillon Brooks was probably the most underappreciated player for the Grizzlies in this game. He finished as the high scorer with 31 points of his own. Unfortunately, he was overshadowed by the triple double duo who stole the show.
Brooks is definitely a wild card each and every night, and it is shown in the box score. He does not hold back whether he makes or misses, but in this game he was feeling it, going 12-18 from the field and 4-7 from three. Brooks needs to channel this hot hand and bring it Saturday. If he can get into his game he showed off in this clip against the Bucks, the offense can flow through his aggressiveness balanced with Morant on the offensive end.
Kyle Anderson- B
Another consistent game for Kyle Anderson in this one. He finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. This is the game Grizzlies’ fans have to expect from Slo-Mo at this point. He will not bring a huge scoring performance, but he plays hard and hits open shots that he can make for himself and Ja can create for him.
Anthony Tolliver- B
Tolliver has really been an overachiever on this Memphis team since the restart in the bubble. He has not done anything to overly impress anyone, but his contributions has been enough to fill his role. In this one, he played 20 minutes and scored 9 points off three made three-pointers. Tolliver just spreads the court out and sits in the corner/on the perimeter to be a three-point threat. It is a role he can do well enough to hit open shots and spread out the defense for Ja to work his magic.
Jonas Valanciunas- A+
Even with Dillon Brooks’ 31 points, Valanciunas had an incredible game for the Grizzlies. He finished with a massive triple double with 26 points, 19 rebounds, and 12 assists. Prior to this game his career high in assists was 5. Valanciunas saw how the defense was playing him on the dribble hand-off each and every time and kept setting the screen for DB to make his floating runner with consistency.
He controlled the paint and had his way over powering both Lopez brother making them look like twigs down there. JV is the most important player for the Grizzlies this season, and if he can do this, the Grizzlies will have an interior advantage against the Trail Blazers.
The Bench- B
It was an average night for the Grizzlies bench with Dillon Brooks hot the whole night. It would normally be some additional minutes for Grayson Allen, but in this one, he only contributed with 9 points. Brandon Clarke was the only bench player with double digit points with 10. The one big takeaway from his minutes was his play with Morant. These two are showing improvement with their progression together. The bench is a bit thin due to injury, but the Grizzlies will need it all on Saturday.
After the Trail Blazers win, the Grizzlies will be the nine-seed in the Play-In game. They will need to win both of these play-in games to advance into the playoffs against the Lakers.