The Memphis Grizzlies may be the best team in the NBA. The Phoenix Suns would certainly have a fair claim to that title, as would the Golden State Warriors, and the Milwaukee Bucks of course are the defending champions. But even if you say the Grizzlies are not as good as those three squads, there is one title they are currently holding in undisputed fashion...
They’re the most fun team in the NBA.
A bevy of lobs and big time highlight plays were on full display at FedExForum Tuesday night as a well-rested, well-prepared Memphis Grizzlies team absolutely obliterated the Los Angeles Clippers. Led by Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis got what they wanted on both ends of the floor most of the night. L.A had no answer for the energy and speed of the Grizzlies, especially in the third quarter, and it resulted in the second blowout win in a row for Memphis.
Can we just skip the All-Star Break? We don’t want the ride to pause at this time.
Some takeaways from this game,
Aggressive Jaren Jackson Jr. remains the best Jaren Jackson Jr.
The much-maligned rebounding of Jaren Jackson Jr. was not an issue in this game. Jaren was one board away from a double-double at halftime and played arguably his best half ever while wearing Beale Street Blue, especially with regard to physicality. He attacked the rim off the dribble as well as the glass offensively (8 of his 9 rebounds were offensive in the first half) and made the paint his more often than not. He was 9 for 9 from the charity stripe and despite only attempting three 3’s he scored 26 points and wound up snagging 11 rebounds.
Jackson Jr. continues to become even more of a monster unicorn. He can do just about anything on the basketball floor...and he’s only 22-years-old. He is going to be the best kind of problem - one that plays for the Grizzlies - for a long time to come.
This offense is unique
Memphis scored at will against the Clippers and posted the amount of points they did while performing at a below-average level from three. 9-26 as a mark beyond the arc is usually not an indicator of winning basketball. And yet, the Grizzlies blew out Los Angeles while not being able to make their presence known as a perimeter threat.
How did/do they do it? In transition with fast break points (22) and in the paint (78). By dominating the glass (+15 overall in rebound advantage, +10 specifically on the offensive glass) and generating extra possessions wherever possible (103 shots in the game, 24 more than the Clippers). Who needs three point shooting when you’re able to dominate in the paint the way Memphis did in this game...and it isn’t a fluke. Combine all these factors with the Grizzlies getting over 25 assists as a team, and Memphis is damn near unbeatable.
- Ja Morant is a superstar. You already knew that. But when your stat line is 30 points on 19 shots, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists and is almost an afterthought? You’re an MVP candidate. He may not win the award. But he’s certainly someone that deserves to be mentioned.
- The best +/- on the team belonged to...Steven Adams. He completely and totally negated Ivica Zubac, and posted an impressive +24 in only 20 minutes played. 9 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists...that’s not the production of a washed player. He’s pretty good still.
- Was this the last stand of the bench? Almost certainly not. But beyond Jarrett Culver the names that have been hypothesized/speculated about showed their value to the Grizzlies in terms of their defensive play (6 combined steals for De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson) and overall production. If you were team #NoTrade going in to this game, your case got a lot stronger after this one.
The Memphis Grizzlies are 38-18 entering the Trade Deadline. This wonderful shock of a season continues Thursday evening in Detroit against the Pistons.