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ANALYSIS: Grizzlies, fans try to catch breath after rollercoater of a week

It has been a rollercoaster of a week for the Memphis Grizzlies and their fans, with a range of emotions experienced.

On Monday, news broke that All-Star guard Ja Morant, who was still rounding himself into shape from his 25-game suspension, would miss the remainder of the season with a torn labrum. Grizz fans heartbroken.

Terry Davis

On Tuesday, an undermanned squad of healthy players went out and dominated the Dallas Mavericks — without Morant or Jaren Jackson, Jr. — to sweep a three-game road trip. Grizz fans pumped up!

On Wednesday, the team waived Bismack Biyombo, an in-season signing to help make up for the hole left by Steven Adams’ season-ending injury. Grizz fans groan. But the roster move was made to upgrade fan favorite Vince Williams Jr. from a two-way contract to a fully-fledged NBA three-year contract. Grizz fans cheer!

On But on Thursday, we learned that Marcus Smart would be out for weeks with a dislocated finger. Grizz fans sigh.

Tonight, the Grizzlies prepare to defend FedExForum for a three-game home stand (including the annual MLK Day Game against Golden State on Monday, Jan. 15). First up, the suddenly very hot Los Angeles Clippers, whose “Big Four” of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Russell Westbrook and James Harden have been clicking.

But they’re going into the homestand with their usual “next man up” mentality, their swagger after a successful road trip, and a hungry young Vince Williams, ready to earn his pay.

Williams has consistently shown potential in the annual summer league games in Las Vegas and with the Memphis Hustle. Averaging 5.9 points per game, he has reached double digits in seven games this season when given extended playing time. His defensive prowess and activity have earned him more minutes on the court.

Despite no major impact players emerging from this year’s draft, there’s no reason for the team to lose hope this season. With players like Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. performing at an All-Star level outside of Morant, the team remains competitive. However, the center position remains a significant gap.

Brandon Clarke, who has missed the entire season due to an injury, could return and add a much-needed inside presence for rebounding. There are reports that Vernon Carraway Jr. may be available as a two-way contract player, who can participate in up to 50 games in a season.

The Grizzlies’ success often hinges on their three-point shooting accuracy. Despite inconsistency in this area, their recent 3-0 run during a three-game western swing, including two games without Morant and one without Jackson, demonstrates their capability.

With a current record of 14-23, the Grizzlies have the next three games at home. Although the team’s home game performance this year (3 wins out of 16) doesn’t compare to last year’s (only 2 losses), their recent form on the road suggests potential for a turnaround. They could possibly make a playoff push or qualify for the play-in tournament.

Next: The Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m. On Saturday, they’ll host the New York Knicks and former Memphis Tiger Precious Achiuwa. Golden State Warriors arrives for the annual MLK game on TNT, Monday, Jan. 15, at 5 pm.

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