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Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Grizzlies turn back Cavaliers

Something stood out about the crowd that turned out to see the Memphis Grizzlies host the Cleveland Cavaliers at the FedExForum Wednesday night. As the National Anthem played and everyone stood up, there weren’t very many empty seats.

It was a lot larger crowed than you’d expect with the worst statistical team in the NBA in town. With it being a day after Christmas, the Grizzlies made sure the fans got their gift, defeating the Cavs 95-87.

It was the Grizzlies first wire-to-wire win this season after beginning the game on a 13-1 run.

After a dominating first three quarters, the Cavs fought back and got within four points in the fourth quarter before the Grizzlies put them away.

Here are three factors that keyed the Grizzlies win:

Offensive efficiency: 

The Grizzlies are one of the slower-operating offenses in the NBA. That isn’t a secret. With less opportunities, they have to maximize each possession.

On Wednesday night, the Grizzlies had very much success doing so. They finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field and only 12 turnovers.

“Offensively, they play in such a a slow, methodical game,” Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson said. “I know a lot of teams don’t play like that anymore, but they really succeed at it.”

Defense: 

In the first quarter, the Grizzlies held the Cavs to just nine points; even that looked like it would be tough to get. The Grizzlies suffocated the Cavs offense early and often.

Through three quarters, they had held the Cavs to under 30% shooting for the game.

The Cavs offense scored 34 points in the fourth quarter, but still finished the game shooting 36 percent.

“They’re pretty long,” Clarkson said. “They pressure the ball well, and run guys off the three-point line.”

This was even more impressive considering the Cavs shot 21 more shots than the Grizzlies. Rebounding has been a major hole in the Grizzlies game this season. Their defense helped make up for the mistakes against the Cavs.

“We believe in our defense, but you still can’t give teams second and third looks at it,” Bickerstaff said.

“Slo Mo” Anderson scoring fast: 

Coming into Wednesday, Kyle ‘Slo Mo’ Anderson had been averaging seven points per game. Scoring isn’t what has made him a starter on this team, but he added a scoring punch against the Cavs.

Anderson scored 15 points, shooting five-of-six from the field. He also led the Grizzlies with three steals defensively and a plus-minus of 13.

After a tough road trip, the Grizzlies have won two consecutive games. They’ll be put to the test again on Saturday as they host the Boston Celtics.

With nearly every player back at full health, Bickerstaff will have to figure out how to use his rotation going forward. This is about as healthy as the Grizzlies have been this season, and they’ve also developed depth at every position.

“The guys that are playing well are the guys that are going to play,” Bickerstaff said. “Everybody can’t play, but you have to earn every minute that you get and we have to make sure guys have that mindset.”

GALLERY (Photos: Warren Roseborough)

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