The Memphis Grizzlies have been on fire recently and have won 6 in a row, and they have won 8 of the last 10. Currently sitting at 19-22, they are holding on to a two game lead as the 8th seed. During this winning streak they have impressed and upset teams such as the Clippers and Rockets. Not only did they beat the Clippers, but they dropped 140 points on them. Sure, they were without Paul George, but 140 points is still very impressive.
The Clippers starting lineup without Paul George still averages a point differential of 5.8 points and only allows 94.2 points per 100 possessions. They still are an above average defensive team without Paul George, and there is no reason they should give up 140 points to the Grizzlies.
So the question still stands, why are the Grizzlies so hot right now, and what can stop them?
Ball movement is very important to winning basketball games. Without it, the offense stalls. When the team plays solo basketball and does not move the ball, chances are, unless you have a James Harden, you will not win. The Grizzlies know that they do not have that superstar scorer, so they pass at an above average rate. The Grizzlies are the number 1 team in the NBA in assists per game. For the season, Ja Morant has been averaging 7 APG, and the team has been averaging 28 per game. Now over the last 6 games, Ja Morant has been averaging 9 assists per game, and the team has been averaging 31.7, stretching the assists lead even more. Having Morant’s play making ability on the court for players like Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas, and then Jae Crowder to stretch the floor is crucial to them winning. So to sum that up, Ja Morant’s on fire playmaking ability is one reason why they are currently unstoppable.
They have been rebounding the ball extremely well as well. The leading rebounding team in the league this season is the Bucks, averaging 51.8, followed by the Nets averaging 48.7 rebounds per game. For the Grizzlies, they have been 15th in the league, averaging 45.6 RPG. Over the past 6 games, they have been averaging 48.5 RPG, which would put them third in the NBA. This season the leading rebounder for the Grizzlies has been Jonas Valanciunas, averaging around 10 boards a game, which over this win streak, he has continued to do. The impressive part is what other players on the team have been doing. Jaren Jackson Jr., Jae Crowder, and Brandon Clarke all have games where they have grabbed 7 or more boards over this stretch of wins, and out rebounding may be one of the most important things in game. They are only out rebounding opponents by 1 board a game, but either way they have been one of the more dominant teams on the boards during this streak.
They are on fire in every category of statistics right now. Their stats during this win streak are drastically better in ever category.
- FG% Season- 47.1%
- Last 6 games- 50.7
- 3P% Season- 36%
- Last 6 Games- 38.4%
- FT% Season- 79%
- Last 6 Games- 84.8%
- Blocks Per Game Season- 5.4
- Last 6 Games- 7.7
- Steals Per Game Season- 7.9
- Last 6 Games- 8.7
- Assists Per Game Season- 27.9
- Last 6 Games- 31.7
- Turnovers Per Game Season- 15.4
- Last 6 Games- 12.5
- Plus/Minus Season- -2.4
- Last 6 Games- +14
They are virtually better in every stat they could be better in. They are shooting better. They are minimizing turnovers. They are playing slightly better defense. The Grizzlies are on fire in every way possible right now, and they play Cleveland on Friday. After tonight’s win against the Rockets, they are finally starting to prove they can continue to win, and possibly make a trade to make a playoff push. They Grizzlies are vulnerable though.
Defensively the Grizzlies are one of the worst teams in the league, and over these past 6 games that has not changed. Currently, they are 27th in the league in opponents points per game, with 115.9. Over the last 6 games, they have been allowing 112 PPG to opponents, which would put them about 20th in the league. The Grizzlies can be beat by good defense. Once they play a team that can lock down in the paint and defend the arc they will be just as vulnerable as any other team.
They have a pretty easy upcoming 5 games, so do not be surprised when this win streak continues. If they can keep up this momentum and fire on the offensive end, with the teams they will be playing they can breeze through their next two weeks. Upcoming they have Cleveland, New Orleans, @Boston, @Detroit, and then Phoenix. At worst they go 3-2 in this stretch and lose both away games, but with the drive they are playing with that is at worst. A 4-1 or even 5-0 record in these 5 next games are very probable as none of them have many real big men to stop Valanciunas in the paint, or if they do, will they be able to stop Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., or Jae Crowder who will be ready for the three?
The Grizzlies are starting to figure themselves out this year, and they will be able to make a playoff push, if they can keep playing at a fraction of what they are now. If they do decide to make a run for the playoffs, if they wanted a real chance, they could trade for a defensive anchor such as Jrue Holiday to run in the back court with Ja. Trading for Jrue would majorly help defensively, and it would not hurt them offensively either, as he can score at an elite level as well. That is what makes most since, if they were willing to make a trade and try and push for a deep playoff run.