The Grizzlies were able to avenge their poor loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers several days ago back home in Memphis in Monday night’s victory 101-91. Head Coach Taylor Jenkins’ team had four starters in double figures and strong performances from several reserve players. When it mattered most late, the veteran unit of Tyus Jones/Dillon Brooks/Kyle Anderson/Brandon Clarke/Jonas Valanciunas helped lead a 19-5 run to close out the game
Here are some key takeaways from a big win.
Kyle Anderson - Good at basketball
Kyle gets the headline spot here despite being the only starter that did not score in double figures in this contest. Why is that? Because he is also the only frontcourt starter (Tyus Jones and his 13 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals can have a similar impact as a guard) who doesn’t need to score to impact winning basketball. He didn’t have his scoring game going in this one, but his 9 assists and 6 rebound speak to the levels and layers of his skill set. He can defend almost every position on the floor and is a legit option as a “point forward” making offensive opportunities for others.
Yes, it was fun to watch Kyle chuck threes and convert. That’d be wonderful to have stick around. But this Anderson is still a very valuable piece of this Grizzlies team that prioritizes versatility.
Turnovers once again cost the Grizzlies
Without so much offensive fire power, every offensive possession is precious. So when the Grizzlies coughed up the basketball multiple times in the fourth quarter to help fuel the Cavaliers comeback efforts, with Memphis even losing in the fourth for a stretch, it was especially painful. Outside of Tyus Jones (and Tim Frazier, still getting comfortable while in Memphis with the team’s hardship waiver) there are no other true point guards that can help facilitate offense. So it puts the ball in the hands of players like Dillon Brooks (3 turnovers), who are growing as secondary creators but struggle off pick and roll sets - especially when defenders like Issac Okoro are involved.
Win or lose, this must remain a priority. They cannot weather the upcoming schedule with this level of turnovers. 15 turnovers is too many for a team that isn’t in a position to maximize the possessions they have due to so many players being outside their ideal roles.
- Desmond Bane only shot one three pointer. That should never, ever, happen again in a game where Bane plays more than 12 minutes. He was a +16 in 20 minutes of play. He missed his only three point attempt but he was 4-4 on two pointers, grabbed 4 rebounds, dished out two assists and got a steal as well. He’s imperfect as a player. But he can contribute in multiple ways on both ends, and he can shoot the three at an elite level. Get him open off cuts and off-ball screens. Stop just standing him in the corner - especially when you shoot 5-20 from beyond the arc as a team.
- Xavier Tillman Sr. is getting comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that Gorgui Dieng did not play at all in this game. I had a feeling this may happen - Gorgui has played well for Memphis early this season and deserves credit for being a steady hand when the Grizzlies needed him. But with the likes of Tillman - who fit the long-term version of this team - regaining their health and showing an ability to play efficiently on both ends, that just makes for less opportunity for Dieng. Something to keep an eye on.
The Grizzlies are now an impressive 4-6 - impressive considering they’ve done a majority of this work without Ja Morant and all of it without Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justise Winslow. Memphis is back in action this Wednesday night as they start a two-game set in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Timberwolves.