Grizzlies Continue Winning Ways with Victories over Thunder, Pistons, Hawks


The Memphis Grizzlies continued their upward trajectory over the previous week, building on an impressive win streak as they improved to 17-9.

The competition may not have been elite since the last recap. There were only two games, and both were against sub-.500 teams. However, Memphis continues to trend positively and get healthier as the season passes. 

Let’s dive into the takeaways from this week’s matchups against the Thunder, Pistons and Hawks.

The Bad

Load Management

From players to personnel, the franchise is carrying itself like a top dog in the Western conference. To be fair, they are a top dog– second seed in the west with a newly minted top eleven offense and top five defense, all with a 25 ppg scorer out. All signs point towards a top four finish, as the Grizz are on pace to host a playoff series.

Two things can be true at one time, though.

Memphis is a top dog in the Western conference.

The margin of error to stay there is small.

As of right now, the Grizzlies are four games over .500, the earliest markings of separation from other teams in a crowded Western conference. Four losses, instead, puts you out of the play-in, tied for 10th/11th.

Obviously, health is crucial to gaining wins and staying ahead of the pack as the dust continues to settle in the wild west. But should that health come at the expense of load management that risks a tick in the loss column?

The Grizzlies have “load-managed” more than one player in more than one game already this season in spite of these narrow standings.

One game was Miami recently, without Morant and Konchar.

If a player has a day-to-day minor injury, how do they handle it? Do they play, continuing to produce at some level while risking greater aggravation? Or do they rest, adding to the ranks of the Methodist hospital network that has apparently expanded to include the Fedex Forum sideline?

For now, the consequences of rest have been limited. Memphis has had both a good string of luck and a relatively easy home schedule. But the answer as to the correct approach won’t be apparent until the end of the season. It’s unknown without some crystal ball that would make all your wildest sports betting dreams come true.

Right now, several Western conference teams are regressing positively to their means (Golden State, Minnesota, Dallas), scratching and clawing their way with a desperation that the Grizzlies don’t feel at the moment.

To relate these points to the games of the last week, an extension of this attitude can be seen in the play against both the Thunder and Pistons. Both matches showed a young team held at arm’s length for three quarters.

Going into the fourth, the Grizzlies led the Thunder 94-87. 123-102 was the final score, and OKC only scored 15 to close. As nice as it is to see the team locked in defensively, the Thunder have several wins this season against teams in the same position after the third who couldn’t close them out.

Waiting to turn it on is a dangerous game.

Similarly, Memphis played a close first half with Detroit, only leading by eight. An explosive third quarter grew the lead, where Memphis outscored Detroit 37-25, but the Grizzlies let go of the rope, leading to a Detroit nine point advantage in the fourth. It was a slightly anxious but successful win, one of many, as the team looked like they just wanted to go home.

This may seem a little overly critical for the second seed in the west that’s on an extended win streak. But until some real separation shows itself, it might be wise to save playing with the food for later. Wins should not be taken for granted right now.

The Gauntlet Approaches

The recent easy stretch was key for Memphis to reintegrate key personnel, especially Jaren Jackson Jr., who used that time to shake the rust and show his improved offensive game and consistency on defense. Lord knows the Grizzlies will need it for the next two weeks.

Supplemented by lots of rest, the Grizzlies will face the Milwaukee Bucks next (19-6). Milwaukee is a true-blue contender bent on running over everyone in their way. The Grizzlies, hopefully, are prepared to bring their best after lesser teams couldn’t punish moments of lazy shot selection and poor transition defense. Those mistakes against better teams will have significantly worse consequences.

Look forward to the tougher schedule over the next few weeks as a solid test for the current state of the team.

The Good

Defensive Domination Continues

The Grizzlies are currently tied with the Clippers for fifth in defensive rating, holding opponents to 110.8 points per game.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that health played a major role in the early problems of an alarming defensive start. Now, each game demonstrates the increasing effect of the presence of Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr., especially these past three games.

In retrospect, missing your two key defenders, a rim-protecting anchor and a POA stopper, would hurt any team. Their valuable contributions don’t just elevate the Grizzlies to an elite defense, but rub off on the rest of the team too. The defense continued to hold strong against Detroit, with Bojan Bogdanovic scoring only 19 points on 6-15 shooting.

All credit in the world belongs to David Roddy. Roddy continued his streak over the last few weeks of strong shooting, unique scoring flashes, and surprisingly potent defense. He averaged eight points on 50% shooting and 50% from three across both games.

Impressive for someone who started the year as the worst statistical player in the leauge.

Take this clip for example. 

Twice in one play, Roddy stymies Bogdanovic. He doesn’t reach, and he doesn’t foul. All it takes is some impressive footwork and his large chest does the rest, cutting off the drive and absorbing contact. The vision for David Roddy is playing out, another defensive stopper who thrives due to his once-criticized measurements.

When it’s clicking, the defensive ideology of the team becomes top-tier execution.

The Return of Ziaire Williams

The Grizzlies led the 2021-2022 season in fast break points with 17.4. This season, the Grizzlies are scoring the same amount of fast break points, good now for third in the league instead of first.

With the abolishment of the take foul, you’d think the Grizzlies would score more as a fast, young team with a number of lob threats and a good feel for transition opportunities. Truthfully, it hurt to lose some lob threats in the offseason, particularly off the bench, as Deanthony Melton and Ziaire Williams were always first up the floor and running at an angle behind the defense for the perfect jam.

Now, Memphis gets one back as Williams comes back from Patellae Tendinitis.

Having missed the first quarter of the year up to this point, it would have been smart not to expect much out of Ziaire, who still needs time to find his legs. But even Wirth the reduced role and minutes against the Thunder and Pistons, he still managed to show that the work seen in Summer League can’t wait to be unleashed.

Enjoy this pass, one of many coming. Playmaking, length, and shooting are back to bolster the Grizzlies bench from one of the league’s most exciting young players.

Keys to the Game

Bucks @ Grizzlies (12/15)

Just hang in there. It might end up a good temperature-taking night for how the Grizzlies fare against real competition that has been absent in an easy schedule to start the season. Milwaukee is good, sure– but no team is unbeatable. Give 48+ minutes of consistent effort and feel happy with the results if they do.


Check out last week’s Recap by Luke Hatmaker (@luketeno), Grizzlies Keep Winning, Nearing Full Strength. And be sure to check out the Grizz 901 Podcast, where the Grizz Lead guys get on to discuss the most recent games and much, much more!


About Andrew Hanissian

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