I don’t know what it is about the Brooklyn Nets, but they seem to bring the best out of the young Grizzlies. Last year Jaren Jackson Jr had a huge game in the multi-overtime contest against Brooklyn. This year, it was Ja Morant’s turn.
The first quarter belonged to Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who put up 14 points in the opening frame. For a while it looked like the All-Star might have his way with the Grizzlies backcourt and keep Memphis searching for their first win.
However, several Grizzlies had another idea in mind.
Unlike the previous pair of games this season, the Grizzlies played 4 solid quarters and hung in there, despite a 10-0 Nets run in the 4th quarter.
This resilience helped the Grizzlies win a dramatic contest 134-133 on their home floor.
Seven Grizzlies scored in double figures. Ironically, the only starter to not do so was Jae Crowder, who hit this walk-off game winning three at the buzzer in overtime to officially usher in a new era in front of the FedExForum crowd and Grizzlies fans everywhere.
I’ll get to my five takeaways from this game in a second, but they very easily could just be five Morant highlights that I spend several sentences each ranting on and on about.
Ja Morant is for real
In this game, Morant cashed in for 30 points, 4 rebounds, and 9 assists including the pass to Jae Crowder for the game winning shot.
With his breakout game, Morant joins rare company.
In addition to the gaudy scoring and passing stats, Morant elevated for several acrobatic layups, including his first dunk in a Grizzlies uniform.
Words don’t do his game justice, so feast your eyes on these highlights.
Solomon Hill makes the most of appearance
In his first regular season appearance of the season for the Grizzlies, Solomon Hill stepped in admirably and may have carved out a role for himself in small ball lineups for coach Jenkins.
For 3 minutes in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies put a lineup of Morant, Brooks, Crowder, Clarke, and Hill. That lineup was plus five in their short time on the court. None of those players are listed over 6’8″.
In 24 minutes, Hill scored 13 points on 6/6 shooting with 5 rebounds.
Bruno Caboclo did not make it on the floor in this one and it appears that Hill was chosen over him. Hill came to the Grizzlies as part of the Chandler Parsons deal with Atlanta this summer.
Valanciunas took advantage of Jordan’s disrespect
Though only playing 20 minutes, Jonas Valanciunas netted another double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Grizzlies were a plus ten when he was on the floor and he nailed 3 of 5 three point attempts.
Several times DeAndre Jordan left him wide open at the top of the key and — after much deliberation — JV knocked down the shots. This added element to the Grizzlies offense can really help with floor spacing and create more driving lanes for the guards and wings.
Pace up, shooting accuracy is key
Last year, the Grizzlies were last in the league with 96 possessions per game. They also averaged 31 three point attempts per game (17th) and shot 30% (26th) on those attempts.
Through three games this season, the Grizzlies are averaging a much more sprightly pace of 108 possessions per game — registering them at 4th in the league.
However, something that hasn’t changed yet is the number of three point attempts. The Grizzlies are still getting up 31 shots from deep per game.
In their games against the Heat and Bulls, the Grizzlies shot 15% and 28% from three respectively. Against the Nets last night, they shot 42% on 33 attempts.
While the pace of play has “improved” according to new NBA standards, we will need to keep an eye on how the Grizzlies adjust in their goal of putting up more three point shots instead of contested mid-range twos. It goes without saying that if they shoot 42% on a nightly basis they have a change to win plenty of games, but that likely is a little aggressive of a goal. In order to meet in the middle, Memphis will need to get up more attempts and also establish a more consistent baseline of shooting percentage that does not vary as much from game-to-game.
Dillon Brooks maybe settling in?
Why am I always picking on Dillon and paying extra attention to how he plays on a game-to-game basis?
Maybe because it’s because I really want Memphis to have found a steal in the second round of the draft — and he has shown glimpses that he can be that when healthy.
After shooting way too may contested and off-balanced two pointers in the first two games, Dillon started to get some rolls against the Nets and put in 21 points on 60% shooting. Currently, Dillon leads the Grizzlies in three point shooting — averaging 2 makes on 4 attempts per game. If he can continue to shoot well from three and avoid taking unnecessary contested shots inside the arc, then the Grizzlies might be able to rely on him a bit more going forward.
He has been given the most opportunity to earn the minutes at the 2-spot, so how will he fare going forward?
In addition to The BarnBurner Podcast Network, where we have an NBA show called the Backdoor Cut, we have now started streaming our episodes live on our YouTube channel and also our Twitter handle. Here’s a peak at our show from Sunday night following this exciting win.
More NBA Content on The Barn
- Backdoor Cut (Ep. 99) – Grizz go 1-2 on the week, Trend spotting, Surprises around the NBA
- Backdoor Cut (Ep. 98) Grizzlies + Lakers postgame, season trends
- Jonas Valanciunas Deep Dive: Taking a Look Back and Analyzing What the Grizzlies Have In Their Starting Big Man
- Grizz fans, We got one! Ja Morant is a superstar.
- Backdoor Cut – (Ep. 95 + 96): 2020-21 NBA Over/Unders