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Insider Insights: Grizzlies Took the Celtics to the Brink but Fell Short

The Grizzlies fall to the Celtics on the final possession to fall to 3-10 on the season and lose their 5th straight to the Cs.
By Parish Sharkey - November 20, 2023, 8:00 am - 1 comments

The Memphis Grizzlies gave the league’s best all they could handle but couldn’t pull out the victory in a game that had seven ties and 18 lead changes.

The new starting five of Desmond Bane, John Konchar, Santi Aldama, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Bismack Biyombo got off to a slow start, as the Celtics started the game on a 6-0 run. All of their points came in the paint. Desmond Bane then led the charge as the Grizzlies responded with a 15-7 run to take a two-point lead midway through the first quarter. After the Celtics rebounded to retake a six-point lead at 23-17, the Grizzlies ended the first quarter on a 10-3 run, leading 27-26.

The beginning of the second quarter was much like the start of the game as the Celtics scored the first seven points of the quarter to regain the lead at 33-27. Also, like the first quarter, the Grizzlies responded with an 8-1 run to regain the lead themselves at 35-34. However, the ending to the quarter played out differently; the Celtics led by as many as ten points on their way to a 56-53 halftime lead.

The Grizzlies regained the lead early in the third quarter at 59-58, but the Celtics quickly went on a 7-0 run as both teams traded leads; there had been 12 lead changes by that point in the game. No more lead changes would happen the rest of the third quarter as the Celtics rode that run to lead by as many as nine on the way to a 79-76 lead to end the third quarter.

The Grizzlies cut their deficit from nine down to merely three entering the fourth quarter, retaking the lead early in the fourth at 83-82 and again at 86-82. The teams continued to trade leads until the end when the Celtics ultimately delivered the final blow, with a Porzingis dunk being the winning play with one minute remaining to defeat the Grizzlies 102-100.

Now, for some takeaways:

New Starting Lineup

The Grizzlies are now on their sixth different starting lineup of the season after replacing Jacob Gilyard with Santi Aldama. The need to use so many lineups has been due to various injuries and struggles throughout the roster construction. Still, they have managed to be 3-4 in their last seven games after beginning the season 0-6.

After struggling in the initial start to the game, the new starting unit looked good for the rest of the first quarter, as Desmond Bane caught fire and was backed up by Jaren and Santi to combine for all of the teams’ 27 points in the first quarter. For a Grizzlies team that has been notorious for their slow starts this season, this group provided a chance to put their current three best scorers on the court simultaneously to help get off to a faster start offensively.

This change helped lead to Santi Aldama notching his career high in points, with 28 points and 12 rebounds. Also, Desmond Bane scored 30 points, and he, Santi, and Jaren combined for 75 of the teams’ 100 points.

Points in the Paint

After leading the NBA in Points in the Paint per game for the last four seasons, the Grizzlies only rank 19th in the NBA in that category this season. The Grizzlies had not averaged less than 56.9 paint points per game in any of the last four seasons but are only averaging 47.7 points in the paint per game this season, with only three games of them scoring over 50 paint points before the matchup against the Celtics.

Of course, missing Ja Morant affects that, along with the absences of Brandon Clarke and Steven Adams; however, the Grizzlies have been taking threes at an alarming rate that has not been beneficial to the team. They ranked fourth in the league with 41.1 attempts per game before the Celtics matchup.

After scoring 50 points in the paint against the Spurs Friday night, the Grizzlies fell back to their shot-jacking ways to begin the game against the Celtics. By halftime of the game, the Grizzlies had attempted 24 threes while shooting 37.5% and only scoring 14 points in the paint, while the Celtics scored 30 paint points.

That discrepancy continued the rest of the game as the Grizzlies finished with only 32 paint points, attempting 44 three-point attempts to only 37 shots in the paint.


START getting those paint touches up consistently. As stated above, the Grizzlies led the NBA in Paint Points per game the last four years, and it is no coincidence that they were a lot more successful over the last four years than they have been so far this season record-wise. They cannot do anything about the missing players that contributed significantly to that success, but they can be more aggressive with their attacks to the rim to at least garner more free throw attempts; the Celtics attempted 25 free throws to their ten attempts.

CONTINUE incorporating Santi Aldama’s minutes at the Small forward position. I mentioned in my Media Day Takeaways article that seeing Santi start at Small Forward had potential, as Taylor Jenkins mentioned his versatility between playing positions 3 through 5. He has shown that versatility in the last two games. Starting Santi at Small Forward against the Celtics paid dividends for the flow of the offense, as he can handle the basketball at his 7’0” height and provides the best outside shooting option of anyone playing at that position outside of Desmond Bane in small-ball lineups.

Coming Up

The Grizzlies look to bounce back in Houston as they take on an old friend in Dillon Brooks and the Houston Rockets on Wednesday at 7 PM CST.

Final Quote

“We put ourselves in position to win a ball game and came up a little bit short but it’s not because of lack of a fight” – Taylor Jenkins


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