The Grizzlies have had plenty of fun and positive moments in April. Their improvements on offense from March have been significant, and they have played their best version of basketball at times this month. However, with a young team that has played a lot of games in such a short amount of time, natural inconsistencies become amplified when fatigue settles in.
I feel this is part of the equation in the Grizzlies’ performances over the past two games. However, Memphis has also played two good teams for the second and third time in a short time span. Denver and Portland made adjustments to limit what had made Memphis successful against them earlier this month, and the Grizzlies simply did not have a response. The key for the Grizzlies is ensuring that they simply regroup and take advantage of a schedule that has them playing at home more often against easier competition to end the season.
With this in mind, lets hand out a few grades from a forgettable game.
The edge, energy, and effectiveness of the Grizzlies defense that showed up when it was needed this past weekend in Portland was nonexistent tonight in Memphis. From the start of the game, Portland was able to find their shots at will. Memphis simply had no response or effective adjustments to counter Portland’s success, and this game was over early in the second quarter as a result.
It is certainly logical to make the point that it probably does take more for Memphis to generate the energy and effort that is the calling card of its effective defense this time of year. However, with the Grizzlies hope to make the playoffs, they simply cannot afford to play without that energy and effort in consecutive games. There is no reason to doubt that Memphis will right the ship defensively soon. However, there is also no reason to doubt that adjustments need to be made quickly for this defense to improve to get back to its Top 10 potential.
First Half Shot Selection- F
Though the Grizzlies loss to the Nuggets on Monday Night was understandable, starting out 3-16 from three tonight after going 4-32 on Monday night is a bit harder to explain. When the Grizzlies have played well this season, starting of the games with crisp passing and good shot selection have been a big reason why. It simply has not been there over the past two games.
Whether its adjustments the Nuggets and Trail Blazers made or its simply because shots are not falling as they were, the Grizzlies need to adjust back. Focusing on how they create looks or focusing more on featuring their strengths in the paint and working off that to create good looks from distance, Memphis must regain some sort of offensive balance quickly.
It is fair to say that Justise Winslow was not anywhere near the main reason the Grizzlies lost tonight. It is also fair to say his inconsistencies are due to adjusting to a new role. However, it must also be acknowledged that when Winslow is not playing effective defense or contributing as a facilitator/driver to the rim, he simply adds very little value when he is on the court at this time.
Winslow produced a -24 +/- rating in 16 minutes of action. The offense was stagnant, and Winlsow provided little help on defense when he was in the game. I do believe Winslow should be a part of the rotation on a nightly basis because our defense is at its best when he is engaged and involved. However, he needs to do whatever he can to feature those strengths. I can accept the Grizzlies wanting to find out how Winslow can add value to this team in the present and future. However, if adding point guard responsibilities to his plate is limiting his ability to play at his best on defense, its hard to deny that he is doing more harm than good when he is on the court.
Jaren Jackson Jr.’s Season Debut at Home - A+
Despite the fact the Grizzlies struggled tonight, it was awesome to see Jaren Jackson Jr. in action for the first time this season in Memphis. He showed flashes of his talent tonight, and there should be confidence that will only continue to get better going forward.