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Quick Recap: Grizzlies claw back, but can’t overcome Celtics

The Memphis Grizzlies showed fight down the stretch, but couldn’t stop Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

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Boston Celtics v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies are playing their 3rd home game in 4 nights, taking on the Boston Celtics. This game is a part of a slate where all 30 teams are playing, as the NBA is taking tomorrow off for Election Day.

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The game started out with all offense and no defensive stops. Marcus Smart was responsible for getting the Celtics rolling — attacking the Grizzlies both as a scorer and a playmaker. The Grizzlies managed to start off strong due to an onslaught from downtown, knocking down 5 triples in the first quarter. The Grizzlies led 34-28 after the 1st quarter.

The Boston Celtics demolished the Grizzlies out of the gates, sprinting out to an 18-0 run en route to a double-digit lead. Memphis tried to chip away with 3-point shooting from Ja Morant and Jake LaRavia. There was a cool highlight between Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke, an encapsulation of the Dillon Brooks experience.

The Grizzlies trailed 65-54 at halftime.

The Boston Celtics delivered the first punch after the break, continuing their offensive surge. However, the quarter belonged to Ja Morant. He was spectacular and created highlight reel plays that just shrunk the deficit more and more. He was setting a tone on both sides of the ball, too — breaking down the Celtics’ defense with elite isolation play, and providing a dose of energy with his defense.

After torching Noah Vonleh off a switch, he drew a double team the next play down, and the ball found its way to John Konchar — who drilled a 3 to give the Grizzlies the lead.

The 4th quarter started with a rough Dillon Brooks basketball performance, as he just wasn’t making smart decisions on both sides of the ball. The Celtics made another run to recapture the lead, extending it into double-digits. The Grizzlies leaned on mismatch hunting and isolation ball too much down the stretch, and Jayson Tatum was going berzerk on the other side.

Free throws played a huge factor down the stretch. Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart all missed both attempts in separate sets of free throws. For Tatum and Smart’s misses specifically, the Grizzlies fueled their offense off of them — leading to a Ja Morant 3 and a Dillon Brooks dunk. Desmond Bane drilled a 3 to trim the deficit to 1 with 2 seconds left. However, the Grizzlies didn’t have any timeouts to use to advance the ball in the final seconds. On the inbound to Morant, he slipped on the floor, as time ran out.

The Grizzlies lost 109-106.

Quick Takeaways

  • The presence of Steven Adams was missed. The Grizzlies missed Steven Adams in this game, particularly in that second-quarter stretch where the Celtics crushed them on the glass inside. However, his screen was needed in this one, as the Celtics made it more difficult for Morant and Bane to generate the separation necessary for them to find cleaner looks.
  • But the “next man up” mentality lives on with lots of fight. The Grizzlies managed to secure an even rebounding margin with the Celtics despite their elite glass cleaner. That’s a testament to the Grizzlies’ mob mentality on the glass — as 4 players tallied 7 or more rebounds. It’s also a testament to the fight they played with as well. They dug themselves holes several times throughout the season, but they continued to claw back to close the gap. The Grizzlies didn’t prevail, but it’s encouraging to see them go down without a fight.
  • Rough staggering play. Granted, a team will have to go deep into the bench when they’re missing 3 rotation players. The “next man up” mentality can arise here and there, but sometimes the rhythm with certain units can be thrown off. An 18-0 run early in the second quarter was a massive factor in the results of this game — and the Grizzlies didn’t have a cohesive defensive unit on the floor. It happened again early in the 4th quarter, but Taylor Jenkins didn’t have Desmond Bane or Ja Morant on the floor to start the final period. Injuries force teams to change up their rotations, and it can lead to tough results. Tonight was an example of that dilemma.

The Memphis Grizzlies will travel to San Antonio on Wednesday to take on the Spurs.

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