Most of the time, a matchup between the 1st and 2nd best teams in the NBA is riveting, energetic, and a spectacle of sorts. This late in the season, most are looking at this game as a preview of a deep playoffs matchup.
Well, we didn’t get that same kind of magic tonight.
The Grizzlies sat Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., Tyus Jones, and Steven Adams due to soreness injuries, as they joined Ja Morant on the injury report. Meanwhile, it was a fully healthy roster for the Phoenix Suns.
The expectations aren’t too high, but hey we got into some good basketball.
Like GOOD basketball.
The Grizzlies got things rolling in the 1st quarter, starting out on a 11-1 run in the first 3 and a half minutes of the game. The heater continued as Dillon Brooks was scorching nets creating off the dribble, basking in the greenest light he’s had since his rookie season. The Grizzlies also dominated the offensive glass, corralling 7 offensive rebounds in the period. They got up by as much as 16 points and finished with period with a 34-23 lead, after Santi Aldama emphatically blocked Devin Booker before the horn.
The Suns started to trim the deficit early in the second quarter, cutting it down to as little as 4 points. Midway through the period, Taylor Jenkins got ejected from the game, after arguing a blatant missed call on a John Konchar floater. That fiery intensity was super rad. The Grizzlies managed to hold on to the lead going into the half, as they entered the locker room with a 54-50 lead.
The Suns managed to take the lead with about 8 minutes left in the quarter, probably something expected given the circumstances. Some cool stuff happened in the quarter, particularly Ziaire Williams showing some flashes off the dribble. There was also a little smack talk exchange between Dillon Brooks and Devin Booker — give me all that energy by the way. The quarter ended with the Suns up 83-81.
The Grizzlies extended a lead out to 14 points in the 4th quarter. The period belonged to Santi Aldama. He was absolutely on one — dusting out a slick Euro step and this bad boy:
Santi Aldama vs. the best team in the NBA pic.twitter.com/gugaVgAoQa— Jessica Benson (@jessbensontv) April 2, 2022
The Grizzlies iced the game with a Dillon Brooks isolation bucket and a parade of free throws, securing a 122-114 win.
- Ziaire Williams on-ball flashes. With the absence of a point guard, there were on-ball reps for the taking. Ziaire Williams had that chance, and he showed some awesome stuff. It’s just a flash of what his potential could be as this big wing. Is this a sign of things to come in this year’s Summer League, similar to Desmond Bane this past year? That’d be sweet.
- Xavier Tillman making most of opportunities. Once again, Xavier Tillman got minutes, and he made the most of it. He played a big role in making sure Deandre Ayton wasn’t a factor. He hustled his tail off on defense, defending a ton of pick-and-roll’s and getting incredibly active on the rebounds. It hasn’t been a great year for Tillman, but he’s laying a foundation for a potential bounce-back next season.
- This Grizzlies team, man. I mean, they just keep winning regardless of who’s out there. I mean seriously, they didn’t play 4 starters or a single point guard. And they played the team with the far-and-away best record. Oh, and they didn’t have their coach for an entire half. And still won? Man, this is just a testament to the team’s depth and to the culture that’s been set here. Probably one of the best wins of the season. What a fun game.