The Memphis Grizzlies finally arrived on the stage they had been working hard to reach all season on Sunday. The Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors faced off to determine who would finish 8th and 9th in the Western Conference, with the winner having significantly better chances of making their postseason goals a reality. Unfortunately, though Memphis certainly did well in making a comeback effort to try and earn a big victory, Stephen Curry and the Warriors were simply too much for the Grizzlies.
Beyond Curry, the Grizzlies made only six threes during the game while the Warriors made 15. The Grizzlies were not able to make up for that deficit in any other aspect of the game, and despite a valiant comeback that even allowed for them to take the lead in the middle of the fourth quarter they could not keep the offensive flow consistent for much of the game. In the end, the Grizzlies were going to have to play a nearly flawless game to beat this version of Curry, and it simply was not in the cards.
Despite the end result, a few Grizzlies did have noteworthy efforts during the game. Let’s hand out a few grades:
Jonas Valanciuanas- A
Jonas Valanciunas is simply asked to do three things any time he steps on the court:
- Be a scoring threat near the rim
- Rebound like a madman
- Protect the Rim
This afternoon, despite whatever opinions Draymond Green and others may have, Valanciunas did exactly that. He produced 29 points, 16 rebounds, and six offensive rebounds. He went above and beyond in terms of what was asked of him, and was far and away the Grizzlies best offensive player. He was a matchup advantage for the Grizzlies, and validated that nearly every time he touched the ball.
On the night, Valanciunas had a +/- rating of -13. This is relevant, as his natural limitations are going to be exploited more in playoff situations. However, this is common knowledge. Valanciunas does the things that he does well at an elite level. The Grizzlies will take this performance from him any night, with the hope that the rest of the starters and bench perform better in the future.
For three quarters Dillon Brooks struggled offensively, at one point being 2-10 from the field. It was certainly one of his worst performances in recent weeks.
And it was both perfectly acceptable and understandable.
The area where Brooks was needed the most was where he absolutely shined. Yes, Steph Curry finished with 46 points on the night. However, when matched up with Dillon Brooks, Curry was 4-14 from the field for 11 points. Brooks did very well limiting Curry as much as anyone reasonably could. Brooks also was the offensive catalyst as the Grizzlies stormed back in the early fourth quarter. It is very fair to assume that the end of the game, considering Brooks had a +/- measure of +7, would have been much closer had Brooks not fouled out.
Yes, Brooks needs to make sure he stays disciplined to remain on the court. However, with the Grizzlies facing teams with excellent offensive options from here on out, Brooks showed how valuable he can be on both ends of the court.
Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.- D
I feel confident in saying that tonight was the most important game Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. have played in together as teammates. I also am not surprised the say that, partially because of the last sentence, they struggled. Morant and Jackson Jr. combined to go 12-34 from the field and 3-13 from three. Morant had four turnovers while Jackson Jr. had five fouls.
Simply put, both have to be better. Each of them, as Morant did in the postgame, will be the first to tell you that. They have to stay on the court and hit open shots. Its understandable they may struggle more than usual doing this going forward due to tougher competition and a lack of experience. However, to realize their goal of making the playoffs, at least one of the duo must play considerably better soon.
In the three games the Warriors and Grizzlies have played this season, Jordan Poole has been an absolute nightmare for Memphis. He had 15 points and three three pointers on the night by himself. The Grizzlies bench scored 14 points as a unit with only two three pointers, while also going 6-20 from the field and committing four turnovers compared to producing only three assists. The playmaking and defensive ability of the Grizzlies reserves is a clear advantage most nights. That advantage has to be realized this week for the Grizzlies to make the playoffs.