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The Long View: Grizzlies, Mavericks, and the 2020s wars ahead

Despite the tough loss, I can’t help but think of what lies ahead for these two squads and the potential future battles.

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Dallas Mavericks v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Man, what a game. You can say this in whatever tone possible.

There’s a sad what a game after a disappointing loss. Watching your team lose in such devastating fashion, while controlling most of the game, is so tough to take in. It’s part of the emotional downswing as a fan.

And honestly, it’s tough for me to get too down on this game. After talking to Coach Jenkins and other players in postgame, the spirits were high, and they know they’re a competitive team that can hang with anyone on any given night. They knew they played a great game and put themselves in position to win the game. They just fell victim to a tough shot from a great player — and that’s what great players do to you.

People will bag on Grayson Allen on the free throws, but his superb 3-point shooting night (6-11) played a massive role in keeping this game close. Even though Luka hit that shot on him, there’s nothing to blame Dillon Brooks on, because — prior to the heroics — the Mavs star was held to 9-19 shooting and 2-9 from 3. It was simply a tight game that was decided by an All-NBA player hitting a tough shot. It’s the NBA, and that happens.

So the what a game aspect of this I’m going to focus on here real quick is the extraordinary battle between two of these young teams battling it out wire-to-wire with a national spotlight. Games like this, aside from the Grizzlies loss, is why I love where the NBA’s at right now. There’s just so much fresh talent currently thriving in the league, and there are plenty of good teams that have young players spearheading the charge towards the playoffs.

This game could be a small glimpse of what’s to come in the Western Conference between these two young teams. And I only say small because of Jaren Jackson Jr., De’Anthony Melton, and Justise Winslow’s absences.

What I see are two squads with two of the NBA’s most electrifying young players leading the charge, and it produces fireworks like we saw tonight. The back-and-forth between these two squads just made think of what could lie ahead in future playoff matchups, or even a future Western Conference Finals, in the 2020’s.

Over the next few years, it’ll be fascinating to watch how each team builds around their pass-first star and their unicorn big man. The infrastructure is there for Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., as they’re building the groundwork for what kind of supporting cast they want around them, but they need to see if Jackson can be healthy upon the return. The Mavericks expedited that process due to Luka Doncic’s early brilliance, and now it’s about Kristaps Porzingis staying healthy and nailing the margins without much draft capital.

So while it sucks losing that kind of fashion, playoff-atmospheric games like last night just build the excitement for what “Grz Nxt Gen” can do as the years grind on.

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