Did you know that Donavin Mitchell was not playing for the Utah Jazz last night? If you were watching the TNT broadcast, you only heard it a bazillion times. Did you also know that Rudy Gobert was named a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year? What about, Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles both being named finalists for Sixth Man of the Year (not sure how that works)?
Did you hear Charles Barkley say the Jazz did not even need Mitchell to make light work of the Grizzlies, only to stutter his way through a backtracking statement at half time? Even Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer and cohost with Memphis’ own Chris Vernon on The Mismatch said that Curry would break our hearts and if he didn't, the Jazz would sweep the Grizzlies anyways.
NEWS FLASH: THESE GRIZZLIES DO NOT CARE WHAT YOU THINK
Despite the world being against them and overlooking them, the Grizzlies did their thing on their way to stealing Game 1 in Utah and home court advantage for the first round. Here’s how they graded out.
Dillon Brooks A+
I do not dish out top grades often. I am also public enemy number one to Dillon Brooks Island. If last night is a preview of what Dillon could ultimately be, I may not be purchasing real estate on the island, but I will be signing up for vacation packages. Dillon was not necessarily the main cog that drove this team last night, but it was clearly his energy and grit that his teammates fed off of. Reggie Miller even said he was a little “loco” and Reggie has no idea.
Dillon was tasked with guarding two of the three 6MOY candidates in this game with some spells on Conley and Bogdanovic. With no Mitchell, Clarkson was the scariest threat and DB made sure he never got going. Supernova Dillon showed up in the third quarter, but didn't return after his turn of rest, but he did everything he needed to do last night, including piss off an entire fan base.
Jonas Valanciunas A-
RuDy GoBeRt - Jonas, probably.
Just like Memphis needing Dillon to match the minutes of Steph Curry in the Play-In, the Grizz need Jonas on the floor whenever Gobert does. JV limits the value of Rudy by being physical enough to rebound with him, but also physical enough on the block with a ZBo-esque shoulder to the chest to create space. His spacing can pull Rudy out of the paint to create driving lanes and when Rudy helps off, its easy dump downs or put backs for the big fella.
JV has also looked much better moving laterally on defense, becoming less of a liability on that end of the floor. Dillon was key cog #1, JV is equally as important in this series and proved that in Game 1.
Kyle Anderson- B+
Kyle was big time as a steadying presence for Memphis last night. His six steals were a franchise record for a playoff game, surpassing The Conductor Mike Conley himself.
Trust is the word that comes to mind in regards to Kyle. Last night, you just trusted Kyle when he had the ball to make the right play. It is truly awesome to see the national media give him his flowers for how he processes the game and I for one am enjoying my plate of crow after trying to trade him for two years.
Kyle has to be consistently Kyle in this series for Memphis to hang around.
The three listed above are the “vets” that will have to do their thing every night. The guys below are the ones that will swing the games in either directions based on their production.
JA MORANT - Fourth Quarter Ja was on full display last night. His patience and creativity on the attack of the basket was masterful and at times unbelievable. He didn't settle for outside shots and played his game. He did not get to the line as much as you would think on 21 shot attempts, but when he got there, he executed. If closer Ja is here for this, Memphis is in good shape. B+
JAREN JACKSON JR - He is clearly still seeking to find his legs and rhythm. He was unplayable in the first half and had one of those moments in the second half that brings hope as he blocked a shot on one end, then drilled a trailing three immediately after. He looked bad, the numbers were bad, but it has only been 13 games, if Jaren can halfway find his footing, Utah is in trouble.
THE BENCH MOB- Struggled hard out the gate. De’Anthony Melton looks like the guy Phoenix traded, not the analytical darling we have come to love. The bench combined for a whopping 19 points, most of that in the second half. Desmond Bane was awesome again, hitting a huge buzzer beater as time expired at the end of the third and Grayson Allen only had five points, but they were a loud five. The bench has to step up, and maybe switch Brandon Clarke for Xavier Tillman in this series for matchup purposes. C-