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The Long View: Grizzlies earning their battle scars

The Grizzlies drop a 3rd straight, but making Utah earn every win

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Utah Jazz v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Jazz jumped out to a 3-1 series lead after defeating the Memphis Grizzlies 120-113 in Game 4 at FedExForum. It was another solid effort by the Grizzlies, who just can’t catch up to the hot shooting of the Utah Jazz. The Grizzlies hung around all game long, but per usual in the series, any time they cut it to a one possession game the Jazz responded with a dagger 3-pointer.

The Jazz ultimately outshot the Grizzlies from beyond the arc by 21 points, making 17 triples to the Grizzlies 10. It was a hard fought effort, but the Jazz offense has been clicking on all cylinders the past 3 games en route to their wins. Losing 3 straight, and 2 at home, is certainly frustrating for the fan base but the Grizzlies are encouraged by their ability to go toe-to-toe with the best team in the NBA.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Utah Jazz v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Grizzlies have found themselves down double-digits in all 3 losses in this series and every single time they’ve comeback to either tie the game or take a lead. In a first round that has featured its fair share of blowouts, the 8th seeded Grizzlies have held their own with one of the NBA’s elite. The team refuses to lie down and give up. Instead, they almost enjoy the adversity knowing that it will help them grow and make them that much better.

The phrase “earning their battle scars” has been used by multiple media outlets as the Grizzlies went through the Play-In Tournament process and now through the First Round of the NBA Playoffs, but in the past some teams don’t really “earn” the scars like these young Grizzlies have. This team isn’t a pushover 8-seed that is just happy to be in the playoffs and getting blown out in a majority of the games. This Grizzlies team is making the Jazz fight and claw for every win they get.

The Grizzlies are throwing everything they have at the Jazz, as Jenkins mentioned in the postgame presser. The Jazz have just had a response for everything the Grizzlies have done, like great teams do. And yet the Grizzlies continue to throw everything they have at the Jazz. They haven’t once resembled a team ready to give up or call it a game. If they’re going down, they’re going down swinging.

While the valiant effort by this young Grizzlies team may come up short in this series with the Jazz, the lessons learned over the past 3-4 weeks will be invaluable. Ja has proven he was made for the moment, carrying this Grizzlies team at times. Dillon Brooks’ value has skyrocketed as a really good two-way player if he can stay out of foul trouble. Jaren Jackson Jr. has started to look more and more like himself in the past couple of games as he returns to game action following last seasons knee injury. Desmond Bane and Grayson Allen have made big threes in the series while De’Anthony Melton broke out of his slump in a major way with 15 4th quarter points last night.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Utah Jazz v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Grizzlies are fighting through their struggles, both individually and as a team, and attacking them head on. Melton didn’t shut down after a stretch of bad games, Allen didn’t stop shooting after an 0-6 night. We’ve seen teams sneak into the playoffs in the past, accept a few blowout losses and move on to the offseason. I don’t really consider that “earning” your battle scars. These Grizzlies are throwing haymakers at the Jazz - the Jazz just respond with haymakers of their own.

In no way am I counting the Grizzlies out of this series just yet. We saw what felt like fifty 3-1 leads get blown in last years playoffs alone. The Grizzlies have defied expectations all season, and I wouldn’t expect that to stop Wednesday in a pivotal Game 5. The Grizzlies are going to roll with the punches, giving the Jazz everything they’ve got in hopes of it leading to a victory. Whether the Jazz accompany the Grizzlies back to Memphis following Wednesday doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the battle scars and lessons learned from this series will pay dividends down the line for this young Grizzlies squad in the wars to come the following years.

The Grizzlies hope to extend the series. Regardless of the outcome, this is something the Grizzlies as a team will need to improve upon heading into the rest of this series and next season.

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