MikeCheck: GrindTable weighs in on Winslow’s impact, Wizards’ lethal backcourt and D.C. sightseeing
MEMPHIS – Coming off a franchise record-setting performance in a 49-point win at Houston, the Grizzlies return to action Tuesday night looking to sweep the two-game trip in Washington.
A victory against the Wizards would assure the Grizzlies (15-15) of entering the looming All-Star break with at least a .500 record, which is no small feat of its own considering the challenges Memphis has faced this season.
After facing the Wizards (13-19), who have won seven of their past 10 games, the Grizzlies close out the first half of the schedule with Thursday’s home game against the Bucks. First, the task is to slow down the surging backcourt duo of NBA leading scorer Bradley Beal and triple-double maestro Russell Westbrook in the nation’s capital.
As the Grizzlies look to build on Sunday’s epic outburst, our broadcasters ‘GrindTable’ breaks down three topics entering Tuesday’s game. Consider it a fastbreak, with the NBA’s most talented and knowledgeable broadcasters filling lanes and scoring on each insightful point.
This week’s panel features Grizzlies TV broadcasters Pete Pranica, Radio broadcaster Eric Hasseltine and pregame, halftime and postgame radio host Jessica Benson.
The most encouraging aspect of Justise Winslow’s impact so far with the Grizzlies is...?
The best part of Justise’s game so far has been his intensity and effort on the defensive end. One of the reasons the Grizzlies brass liked him so much is that he could defend multiple positions. Even when his shot wasn’t falling in his first few games, he was grinding on the defensive end. You can never have enough defenders and two-way players.
I love seeing Justise feel so comfortable being Justise; on and off the court. From his drip to his heartfelt words to Rob Fischer in his postgame interview; from the immediate impact he’s had as a defender to the hilarity of wanting to challenge a foul call when his team is up 38 points. Winslow seems like he’s in a good space mentally and physically, and that can only help the Grizzlies moving forward.
His ability to body up defensively on bigger wings and to finish at the rim. His presence on the perimeter gives the grizzlies great options with Melton, Brooks, and Anderson to be better defensively in the second half of the season.
Justise is mature beyond his years. That’s been the case since he entered the league six years ago in Miami after his one-and-done season at Duke. He’s run into some real adversity, having endured injuries, role changes, a trade and another round of injuries that delayed his actual playing debut in Memphis until just recently. So the most encouraging aspect of Justise’s impact is with the leadership, perspective and calming influence he adds to this team, both on and off the court.
The Grizzlies’ most challenging task tonight against the Wizards will be...?
The obvious answer is Beal and Westbrook, but right now, Davis Bertans is on a roll, posting a career-best 16 consecutive games with multiple threes. He just hit five Sunday at Boston and had a 9-for-11 outing from the arc against Denver. He might just make more threes by himself than the Rockets did as a team Sunday night.
Bradley Beal is the obvious answer. Russell Westbrook is the next one. But, Davis Bertans is averaging 3 made three-pointers per game and has had multiple threes in 16 straight games. Even though the Rockets couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from deep, the Grizzlies perimeter defense has struggled. Tonight is another big test.
The most challenging thing is to not get caught trying to play too fast. Washington just looks to outscore teams. They have the players to do it but if the Grizz can control the tempo, and close out to the perimeter they will have a good chance to come out on top.
Moving on, good or bad, to the next play. We’ve seen the Grizzlies get frustrated in recent games when calls don’t necessarily go their way. And they’ve made some very valid points in questioning some of the whistles. But that doesn’t do anyone any good, particularly a young team still trying to find its way to consistency. Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal generate star treatment. The Grizzlies have to defend, and move on to the next play.
At least one spot you’d hit up on this trip to Washington would have been...?
Those who know me best, know that the Air & Space Museum is an absolute must see for me. They’re in the midst of a huge renovation and I’m eager to see how that’s turning out. With enough time, I’d go back to the Udvar-Hazy Center out at Dulles where they keep the really big stuff like the space shuttle Discovery, a Concorde and SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. They also have the first plane that FedEx used when it absolutely, positively had to be there overnight.
For educational purposes: The National Museum of African American History and Culture. For food purposes: Ben’s Chili Bowl. For basic girl purposes: Georgetown Cupcake
I’d say either going to Smithsonian Museum of African American History or the Newseum, which has some incredible areas I’d like to see again, or walking in Monument Park. DC is a trip I look forward to every season. Hopefully I’ll get back there soon.
As a Washington, D.C. native, the first stop for me better be home. Majority of my family lives there, and I had a newborn niece arrive just the other day. Welcome to the world, Jo’Ryan! So after making about 20 or so drive-by stops to see relatives, under normal circumstances, I’d also hit up my favorite Jerk Chicken spot on Georgia Avenue, then back down U Street to check in at my beloved local bookstores along the best stretch of independent shops in the world.