The Memphis Grizzlies fell 121-103 to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night, extending their losing streak to 18 games. The Griz last won a basketball game on January 29 at home against Phoenix, and since that point, everything has come completely unglued for them. Some of this is by design—they're very nearly bad enough to actually get the #1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft—and some of it is because they've suffered a lot of injuries and weren't that good in the first place. No matter how much of the misery is self-inflicted, it's still miserable
What, then, can one say about a game like the one last night? The Grizzlies actually had a decent first quarter against the Bucks (currently sitting in the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot) in which they led by as many as eight points, but before the end of the quarter, lineups changed and so did the tenor of the game. This wasn't a blowout, not for most of its 48 minutes. The Grizzlies made runs, and the Bucks responded, and the Grizzlies never seemed to push over the edge and make it a competitive game. (Which, let's be honest, is not exactly a surprising development.)
I'm not really sure what else to say about this game. The upside of tanking is supposed to be player development, but playing these players in these situations with these personnel groupings isn't helping them develop, not really. As Matt Hrdlicka wrote about recently on his Patreon-backed blog, that's one way the Grizzlies are tanking that is not actually helping them get better for some hypothetical brighter future (beyond just getting minutes for some of these guys).
This season has been taxing to watch, taxing to talk about, taxing to consider in the larger context and, most certainly, taxing for the players stuck on a team that can't seem to put together a win to save its life. There's not much of it left, but what remains promises to be a slog. How do they win a game from here? Where do they find the execution to actually carry some of these runs over into a lead, and then keep it? Can it be done?
We'll find out. In the meantime, the plummet continues.
Speaking of Hrdlicka, Jarell Martin started at small forward last night, and while it wasn't a total disaster, he was clearly playing out of position and struggling to keep up. For all of Martin's nascent skill, recently starting to blossom into "real NBA player" potential, he is still much worse at one end of the floor than he is the other:
I'm not sure what Jarell's defensive awareness 2K rating is, but it's too high.— Matt Hrdlicka (@theRealHrdlicka) March 13, 2018
Thursday night, the Grizzlies play the Bulls, who were recently scolded by the league powers-that-be for resting too many healthy players. (This is why Tyreke Evans is still "injured" and why Chandler Parsons had such a long, lingering "illness" and if you don't believe that I have a couple bridges to sell you, one vaguely shaped like an "M".) It will be vaguely interesting to see which team can try harder to lose, but the novelty has worn off of that like the basketball version of a Radio Shack Super Armatron, and if the weekend's Mavs game is any indication, the Grizzlies are the best team in the league at trying to lose.
Saturday brings the Nuggets, that almost-suitor for Tyreke Evans (though given what they offered, I'm glad that deal didn't go down). The most that can be said for the rest of the season is that they will (technically) be basketball contests held between two professional teams. So it goes.