As Wednesday night’s game was winding down, Ian Eagle described the Nets loss to the Jazz as “another gut punch”. He was right. The frustration percolating throughout the fanbase is palpable, and it’s getting to the point where a lot of us are wondering whether or not tanking is our best option. Might it be? I don’t know.
At the same time, the Nets are 10th in the East, just two games out of a playoff spot. One hot week and we’re back in this thing. It might still be too soon to make any drastic decisions, but waiting too long could have its own consequences.
While the Nets continue to suss out their standing in the league, the Grizzlies are heading up to the Barclays center for yet another Nets match-up with a Western Conference opponent. This time it’s an over performing team looking to bounce back from a recent three-game skid. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are both finally healthy again, and if this Memphis franchise was in the East like it geographically probably should be, they’d most likely lock up a top four seed year in and year out. Let’s get into it. As it is, they’re six in the West.
Where To Follow The Game
YES and WFAN have this one at 7:30 pm, ET.
Caris Levert (foot) and Treveon Graham (hamstring) are out. Still. Dzanan Musa has been assigned to Long Island, while Rodions Kurucs remains with the big club.
Chandler Parsons (knee) is out which should surprise nobody, and Dillon Brooks is set to miss some time with an MCL strain.
Marc Gasol and Mike Conley playing hard, smart basketball has been and will continue to be the Grizzlies calling card so long as the two can stay on the court. Not many teams have had such reliable bedrocks to fall back for such a long period of time, and the Grizzlies are going on a decade with their two leaders at the helm.
Both veterans have been great this season, but Gasol is on another level. Putting up a line of 19.5 points, 9.4 boards, 4.0 assists with 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per game, he’s in the middle of what could end up being the best season of his career if he keeps it up. Shooting 41% from three helps. Conley is his usual consistent self, playing selflessly and hitting his shots when he needs to. The NBA has a lot of flashy superstars, but these two just work hard and get the job done.
The Nets have won three straight against the Grizzlies, which is cool, and if they make it to four, it’ll be the first time they accomplish that since 1998. In order to accomplish this, they’re going to have to maybe not collapse another lead late in a game.
Also having a nice season is Nets castoff MarShon Brooks. The Nets traded him to Boston in THAT trade and after bouncing around for a few other teams, he headed to China for a three-year stint, returning at the end of last year. He’s averaging 6.6 points a game. Oh yeah, Brooks is the last player from the Boston trade who’s still in the league.
It might surprise you to learn that out of all Nets lineups that have played at least 20 minutes together this season, Allen Crabbe is part of the two most effective. The lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, Joe Harris, Jared Dudley, and Jarrett Allen has a Net Rating of 11.2, and that number tics up to 11.6 if you swap out Dudley for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The Crabbe thing makes sense just by virtue of his being able to stretch opponents out based on threat alone, even if he’s shooting just 33% from three this season. Imagine how effective those lineups might be if he was actually hitting shots.
Player To Watch
Jaren Jackson Jr. has been one of the crown jewels of an exceptionally talented rookie class. Just 19, he already is showing flashes of the kind of impact player the Grizzlies think he’ll end up becoming for them. Over his last seven games, he’s averaging 14.6 points while shooting 60% from the field to go along with an intimidating 2.9 blocks per game including a 7-block performance against the Knicks. Love that. His numbers are good, but his impact on the court goes beyond that. He’s fluid, has range, and projects to be a high ceiling potential All-Star.
From The Vault
Like we said, MarShon Brooks is on this Grizzlies team and while he hasn’t been as lights out as he was last year, I gotta show the former Net some love.
For a different perspective, head on over to Grizzly Bear Blues, our sister site on SB Nation.