The Memphis Grizzlies have entered the 2023-24 campaign riding the struggle bus, losing their first four games. With Ja Morant suspended for the first 25 games of the season, some losing was to be expected, but not right out of the gate like this. Last season, Memphis finished one game over .500 when Morant did not play. Two years ago, the baby Grizz went 20-5 when Ja was out.
“We’ve lost seven in a row, eight in a row, never at the beginning of the season, so it doesn’t get as much publicity…adversity when in it always seems like a bad thing, but once you get through it, you become stronger.”
Monday night, the Grizzlies lost by 15 to the Dallas Mavericks at home in a game that ended up being a three-man show for Memphis. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmon Bane both scored 30 points, followed by Marcus Smart with 23. No one else posted more than nine points. What makes this loss even worse is that Mavs guard Kyrie Irving didn’t suit up. Irving was out with a foot injury, and Dallas had no issues smashing Memphis.
With 21 games remaining on Morant’s suspension, the Grizzlies need to find some of that mojo from the past couple of years that got them through Ja’s absences. Smart might be new to the roster and still learning to gel with his teammates, but he’s a veteran in the association, and should be taking on a leadership role.
Up next for the Grizz, they’ve got a three-game road trip out west to Utah, then back-to-back games with Portland. If they can’t come away with at least one victory against those teams, Memphis could be in such a steep hole when Morant returns that they might as well hand over their shovels.
Morant will be eligible to play just before Christmas. No one expects Memphis to be in first place without Ja, but they’ve got to wake up, and get things turned around soon. Should they end up with a record of, say, 5-20 without Morant, their season could be done before we hit the new year.
Original source here
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