Playing in their first game since early March, the Memphis Grizzlies faced the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday in Orlando. The Grizzlies suffered from rust, as the team fell down 54-28 at the midway point. The team rallied back in the second half, but their efforts weren't enough to offset a strong performance from Sixers guard Ben Simmons, who nearly finished with a triple-double. The Sixers finished on top, winning by a score of 90-83.
Here are some takeaways from the contest, and how the Grizzlies can improve from yesterday’s performance.
A tale of two halves: The Grizzlies began play against the Sixers with awful play, as the team shot 9 of 32 at one point from the field during the first half of play. Key contributors such as Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr, and Dillon Brooks were both ineffective and inefficient during the contest, but managed to help the Grizzlies climb back into the contest during the second half. After being down by 28 at intermission, the Grizzlies outscored the Sixers 55-36, but their play in the first half doomed them. For the Grizzlies to win games in Orlando, they must gain and sustain consistency throughout the entire game, not just in the first half.
Jonas the baller: Despite not receiving much help from other key players, center Jonas Valancuinas put together quite a game yesterday. The big man scored 20 points on 8 of 13 from the field and gathered 11 rebounds, as his play allowed Memphis to make it a game in the second half. Valancuinas also performed double-duty, holding Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid to only 10 points on 3-10 shooting from the field. The Grizzlies big man showed his ability to provide a scoring punch while his teammates struggled, which may be needed again as his teammates get their legs under them once again.
Slo-Mo provides a scoring punch: Small forward Kyle Anderson nailed 4 three-pointers off the bench, giving the Grizzlies a long-ball threat I’m not even sure they knew existed. Anderson, who only averaged around 6 points for the entire season, burst on the scene during yesterday’s scrimmage. In addition to the three-pointers, he collected 8 rebounds. If the Grizzlies consistently receive efforts from Anderson, they will certainly be able to offset the loss of forward Justise Winslow, whose presence was supposed to relegate the 26-year old Anderson to the pine. However, with games like yesterday, Anderson may receive more than the 22 minutes he played yesterday.
The Grizzlies will play the Houston Rockets tomorrow afternoon as their second of three scheduled scrimmages.
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