The bottom half of the Western Conference is a full-on slugfest, with six teams only three games apart. But the Memphis Grizzlies are making the most robust case for that elusive 8th spot with five consecutive victories, including the Timberwolves, Spurs, and Warriors.
Since rookie Ja Morant’s return from back injury, the Grizzlies have somehow found their groove, especially on offense. Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Dillon Brooks have all averaged over 18.5 points per game during the streak. But it’s not just their talented young guns that are getting most of the spotlight for the streak; it’s their big men too. 27-year-old Jonas Valanciunas, who’s been super steady for this team and averaging 15.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, had one of his best games in a Memphis jersey last night.
Valanciunas stacked up 31 points and 19 rebounds in a dominating performance against the Warriors, who had no answer for his bruising style. He had a double-double by halftime but did his best work in the third quarter when he hammered home 15 points with five rebounds. I mean, with a Game Of Thrones white walker face like pictured above, who wouldn’t be a little frightened by the big man.
To sum up the Grizzlies right now, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said it best after the game. “They are having a really special season when you think about it. From where they started and it being (coach Taylor Jenkins’) first year to where they are now and what they’ve done the last few weeks is really impressive. …They are one of the best stories in the league this year.”
Catch you Thursday.