REGULAR SEASON BASKETBALL IS BACK.
The Memphis Grizzlies faced off against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first home game of the season. Before you roll your eyes because it’s Cleveland ... Ja Morant up against Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, then Jaren Jackson Jr. and Evan Mobley ... that’s fun stuff.
The Grizzlies came away with a 132-121 win. Here’s how it went down.
The first quarter belonged to Ja Morant and Desmond Bane. Both players were slicing and dicing the Cleveland Cavaliers defense for easy buckets. I guess that’s what you get when Lauri Markkanen is having to defend them a lot. They got the offense humming, scoring 21 of the Grizzlies’ 32 first-quarter points.
On the defensive end, things were pretty loose. They let the Cavs whip the ball around and find easy baskets, with Colin Sexton and Jarrett Allen doing the majority of the damage there.
They finished the quarter knotted at 32, giving the fans a good welcome back to the NBA season.
The second quarter was an absolute treat.
There was a bit of rain in the forecast, as De’Anthony Melton and Jaren Jackson Jr. combined for 5 three’s made early in the quarter. Melton drilled 3 straight triples, and on the last one, he grabbed an offensive rebound, pulled it back to the corner, and let it fly. I about ascended into heaven — it had the Forum rocking.
After a little bit of stagnation, Ja Morant capped off the half with some electricity. He continued to get to the basket whenever he wanted, and he swatted Markkanen’s shot straight into the glass before the buzzer.
DON’T BRING WEAK STUFF WHEN BIG 12’S AROUNDpic.twitter.com/QupPrB5vSp— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) October 21, 2021
The Grizzlies closed the half up 73-61.
The third quarter started out a bit slow, then this happened:
ARE YOU KIDDING ME JA MORANT?! pic.twitter.com/NXLbepc488— Bally Sports: Grizzlies (@GrizzOnBally) October 21, 2021
The 3rd quarter remained lackluster besides that. The defense was a bit loose, and the Grizzlies didn’t exeucut
Jaren Jackson Jr. kicked off the quarter with some unicorn things. He had his first combo meal of the season — stuffing Sexton’s shot in the paint, and then hitting a 3 on the other end. Then, he threw Brandon Clarke a lob out of the pick-and-roll.
Ziaire Williams also had a nice quarter as well. He hit a 3 for his first NBA bucket, then followed it up with an interception on the other end. He also made a really nice dime to a cutter. Appreciate the flashes, folks. He’s young.
Though Cleveland tried to fight back for the win — but for real gambling fanatics, to cover the 8-point spread — the Grizzlies ultimately put things away behind the 2-way play of Ja Morant and De’Anthony Melton.
OPENING NIGHT DUB— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) October 21, 2021
JA: 37 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists
Bane: 22 points, 4 assists
Melton: 20 points, 4 rebounds
Jackson: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks
Adams: 8 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists
Anderson: 10 points, 7 rebounds pic.twitter.com/K1JdMg3wVd
- We have our first rotation! After months of debating over the potential rotation, we have our first look. Taylor Jenkins started Morant-Melton-Bane-Jackson-Adams, then brought Jones-Konchar-Williams-Anderson-Clarke. We didn’t see a pure bench lineup either, as he staggered the starters in there too.
- Ja Morant is a man on a mission. My lord, what a start to his year 3. Morant got whatever he wanted against the Cavaliers — weaving through the defense with great manipulation. He was just emphatic and audacious. He’s going to be an All-Star if he keeps this up.
- A bit more Jaren Jackson involvement. There weren’t as many sets run for Jackson than expected, and he was 4th on the team in shot attempts. Other players were cooking, and he didn’t necessarily have it going himself, but they should’ve looked to run more scoring actions for him to get him rolling. His defensive activity though was phenomenal.
- First Bane and Melton shot? Great success! Both the Bane and Melton advocates got their desires, and they looked awesome. They played with great confidence — a bit to a fault at times — and the offense looked fluid whenever they were in the game. It’s going to be fascinating to see them build on it.