Memphis drops crucial tank race game

Memphis entered last night’s game against Washington at 28-41. This record tied them with Dallas for the 6th worst mark in the league. Sitting with the 8th worst record at 29-40 were the Wizards. A Grizzlies win would have jumped them up to a tie for the 7th worst record. This all matters since Memphis wants the pick they owe to Boston to convey in this year’s draft.

Winning against Washington would have put Memphis at 29-41, and a single game behind New Orleans for the 9th worst record in the league. The pick the Grizzlies owe Boston is top 8 protected this year. This was a big game for the inverse tank race.

Each team bombed away in the first quarter. After one it was 37-35, and the Wizards had gone 7/8 from distance. Memphis opened up an 11 point lead in the second quarter, only to have the halftime score be whittled down to two. The game remained close throughout the second half, until Bradley Beal put the game away with 22.4 seconds remaining.

This one hurt in terms of climbing up the standings. It was against a beatable opponent, the Grizzlies at one point held a double digit lead, and Washington is direct competition for getting to the 8th or 9th worst record. It is also the 13th double digit lead Memphis has blown this season, which is the 3rd most of such instances in the league :(.

Also of note, it was the first time in franchise history that both teams had surpassed the 100 point mark through three quarters.

Observations

1. Jonas Valanciunas the Unicorn?

We recently profiled Valanciunas and all the positives he brings to the Grizzlies. Last night his impact was on full display. His biggest strength on the court is easily his brute force.

But last night he flashed so much more. For instance, he has the quickness to get past other bigs.

He also displayed hustle and active hands, as he continuously disrupted passing lanes and ran back on defense. Lastly, his under discussed passing acumen showed up as well.

2. Avery Bradley Continues to Impress

Bradley continues to make it more and more difficult to image Memphis waiving the his mostly non-guaranteed 2019-2020 salary. Bradley once again was drilling mid-range jumpers, while providing some long distance range. One three in particular stuck out among the others.

That is some Damian Lillard type ridiculousness. A right handed shooter taking a step back/side step to his right, in the corner, and absolutely draining is next level difficult. Bradley made it look easy.

Furthermore, Valanciunas is not the only Grizzly with underrated passing ability.

Bradley and Valanciunas represent optimism and excitement for what this team could be next season.

3. Chandler Parsons Turning Back the Clock

It’s impossible to have watched the game last night and not thought to yourself, “oh, that’s why Parsons was so pissed Memphis wouldn’t let him play sooner.”

Parsons logged 23 minutes and tallied 16 points on 6/10 shooting, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was hitting high degree of difficulty shots with regularity.

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But what really stuck out was Parson’s confidence. Watch as he very calmly, and collectedly, steps into this shot under control and shoots with no hesitation.

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What’s more is that Parsons was out there last night just dropping dimes.

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Questions

1. Did You Know?

Did you know that Mike Conley is 12th in the league in and-1 opportunities, and has the 4th highest conversion rate?

2. Is Delon Wright the Future?

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Prediction

Memphis is 2 games back from the 9th worst record in the league. Washington has the 9th worst record. In between the Grizzlies and Wizards are the Pelicans and the Mavericks.

When eyeballing the Grizzlies remaining schedule, there aren’t too many winnable games left at a glance. With 12 games left, they could one win game of a home-and-home with Dallas, and a road game in Phoenix. It may seem crazy to predict the team going 2-10 during the final 12 games of the season, but the schedule is unforgiving.

Going 2-10 would obviously destroy any hope of climbing up to the 9th worst record, but it places them in jeopardy of being passed by the Hawks and falling to the 5th worst record. Luckily, Atlanta’s remaining schedule is a gauntlet itself.

All in all, Memphis will end up with the 6th worst record, and will be in need of some serious lottery luck to convey their pick to Boston in 2019.

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