Nightmare on Beale Street: Grizzlies vs. Cavaliers

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Last night marked the beginning of the Memphis Grizzlies’ 15th season.  They won the Summer League championship in Orlando.  They were coming off of a 6-1 preseason run.  Marc Gasol signed a 5 year contract over the summer, which leads most to believe that Mike Conley will sign a long term deal with the franchise next summer.  The Core Four is intact, and the franchise made some good moves over the summer to add some depth to the roster.  The team had several events leading up to the season opener to get fans excited about the upcoming season.  Yesterday the Claw Crew popped up all over town doing giveaways and promoting the season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers.  There was even a pre and post-game party on the plaza scheduled to celebrate the season opener.  The game was a sellout.  Memphis was excited, and rightfully so!  Then, the game happened, and it was as if someone took the air out of the balloon.


This was not the season opener that anyone was expecting.  When the final buzzer sounded, the Memphis Grizzlies fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers by 30 points, with a final score of 106-76, making it one of the worst home losses that the franchise has seen in a very long time.  The rested Grizzlies, who hadn’t played a game since last Friday during preseason, looked as if they had played in a down to the wire game the night before on the road like the Cavaliers did.  Ironically, the Cavaliers came in firing on all cylinders.  Early on fans could tell that it was going to be a long night.  The Cavaliers consistently pushed the pace from beginning to end.  The Grizzlies closed the first quarter shooting an abysmal 19% (4/21), while the Cavaliers shot an efficient 50% (10/20).  The score at the end of the first quarter was 26-10.  Optimists surely thought the game was going to look up from there.  Yet, with about 7 minutes left in the half, the teams had scores with the same numbers transposed; the Cavaliers led the Grizzlies 41-14.  Every time the Grizzlies would try to get the semblance of a spark, the Cavaliers would smother the flame.  Coach Joerger tried a variety of line-ups, but the team couldn’t seem to get it together offensively.  As a result, their defense suffered.  The Grizzlies ended the game shooting 35.4%, while the Cavaliers ended the game shooting at 48.8%.


As disappointed as the fans were, Coach Joerger and the players were equally disappointed, if not more.  Joerger opened his post-game press conference very frankly, “tough game for the home team.”  He went on to talk about the team’s inability to score by saying, “I thought our inability to score the basketball carried over to our defense and that cannot happen.”  He acknowledged that the team lost their composure offensively, and that carried over into the defense.  “Our defense has to stay composed if our offense is struggling”, Joerger said.  The Grizzlies’ locker room was pretty quiet, and everyone was rushing because they had to catch a flight to Indiana for a game against the Pacers tonight.  As Tony Allen was ending his interview, he made a statement that unknowingly could be used to sum up how the rest of the team looked post game, “I’m rattled.  They came in and hit us in the mouth.”


There are 82 games in the season.  As dismal as this game was, it was merely 1 of 82.  The team goes on to face the Pacers tonight in Indiana.  The Pacers are also on the 2nd night of a back to back.  They lost last night to the Toronto Raptors in Toronto.  Each team will be looking to get a win.  The Pacers are starting this season with Paul George, who was recovering from injury the majority of the 2014-15 season but also have a new look with the addition of Monta Ellis, and the absence of Roy Hibbert.  Today is a new day.  The nightmare of last night’s game is over.  The Grizzlies live to grind another day.  Catch them at 6 p.m. tonight against the Pacers.

Carmen Patton
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