The Memphis Grizzlies are back in action, as they took on the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks for the 1st preseason game of the year. Finally, we get to see a first impression of how they look after offseason and training camp’s work. The Grizzlies were facing off against a Bucks team without Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Bobby Portis. But hey, hoops are back. It’s all good.
The Grizzlies started out the game with a blitz, as they jumped out to an 11-0 run out the gate. Ja Morant led the charge with his aggression, looking to score early and often. He hit a pull-up 3 that turned into an and-1, and he nearly baptized Brook Lopez at the rim. The offense was in tune, and the defense made good rotations to stifle the Bucks early. The Grizzlies ended the 1st quarter with an 35-23 lead.
The foot was let off the gas a bit in the 2nd quarter, as the Grizzlies lost their touch from the outside. Morant and Desmond Bane really carried the offense in the second half, finding good looks within the flow of the offense and their own creation. Morant continued to find great driving lanes and put the Bucks defenders in blenders.
don't get caught on that island ️ pic.twitter.com/TYjN8rhHsx— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) October 6, 2021
Ja Morant put on a damn dunk show in the 3rd quarter.
Brook Lopez been around too long to know to give Ja anything but a high five on the way up. pic.twitter.com/CfAZ5XZMhn— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) October 6, 2021
Club goin up ☝️ on a Tuesday pic.twitter.com/4D2GrnxAIC— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) October 6, 2021
De’Anthony Melton also had a big 3rd quarter with his outside shooting, knocking down 2 3’s to start the 2nd half. Jaren Jackson Jr. had an awesome stretch of defensive possessions in the last 2 minutes of the game, as he protected the rim relentlessly as the 5 in the lineup. He even flashed his unicorn upside with a block on one end, and a deep 3 on the other.
The game unfortunately was cut short at the end of the 3rd quarter, after a sprinkler in a non-public area inadvertently triggered a fire alarm.
- Ja Morant is still awesome. Morant’s aggression in this game is certainly encouraging, as he found his way to the basket at all and just looked more comfortable looking for his shot — especially from the outside. Ja’s goal of becoming an All-Star will be accomplished if this is the tempo and aggression we get from him each night.
- The wings were cookin’. The Grizzlies ran a lot of sets for its wings, and they capitalized in the process. Melton and Bane combined for 24 points and 6 three’s, launching from 3 with confidence. They also demonstrated great poise off the dribble. If Jenkins is going to choose between them 2 for the starting 2-guard spot, he won’t have a wrong answer.
- Jaren Jackson Jr.’s offense and defense. Jackson didn’t stand out much offensively, scoring 7 points on 3-9 shooting. However, there weren’t a ton of looks generated for him either — I wouldn’t hold too much stock in the woes. Jackson was great defensively in his action, corralling 7 rebounds and 4 blocks in 21 minutes. He communicated well defensively, and did a great job swarming around the rim to alter shots. It was an encouraging sign for him, as he may end up taking more minutes at the 5 this season.
- Soooo Brandon Clarke? Clarke did not play, and he was a healthy scratch. The second unit was Tyus Jones, John Konchar, Ziaire Williams, Kyle Anderson, and Xavier Tillman. He will get more opportunities to prove himself for rotation spot these next 5 preseason games, but it wasn’t necessarily an encouraging sign for his outlook to retrieve an opening night role.