Wednesday, February 26, 2020

How Will Injuries Affect the Grizzlies' Playoff Push?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 3:18 PM

The injury bug has hit the Memphis Grizzlies. First, Jaren Jackson Jr. went down against the Los Angeles Lakers with a knee injury, and then Brandon Clarke, who replaced Jackson in the starting lineup, went down with a hip injury against the Clippers after just four minutes of play on Monday night at Staples Center. Both are to be re-evaluated in two weeks. How will these injuries affect the Grizzlies’ playoff chances? It's anyone's guess.

click to enlarge Jaren Jackson Jr. - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.

The Grizzlies have lost three in a row and will be without Jackson and Clarke from seven to 10 games, or possibly longer, depending on the healing process. It doesn't help that Dillon Brooks and Jonas Valanciunas have been in a funk lately, averaging a combined 13.66 points over the last three games. With Jackson and Clarke out, the Grizzlies can’t win when Brooks and Valanciunas aren’t playing well. And rookie phenom Ja Morant can’t carry the load alone if the Grizzlies want to continue to make a push for the playoffs.

What will the starting lineup look like without Jackson Jr. or Clarke? 

click to enlarge Brandon Clarke - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Brandon Clarke

Josh Jackson more than likely will become a starter, since he has been more comfortable playing as of late. He is averaging 15 points over the last three games and has been helping when the Grizzlies' offense has gone stagnant. Gorgiu Dieng is another player who may get starter minutes. In the past two games, Dieng has averaged a double-double, with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

How will Coach Taylor Jenkins tweak it? He will certainly have to make adjustments. And Morant really might have to put the team on his back and play out of his mind until Jackson and Clarke return. And the now-depleted bench has to continue its strong play.

Memphis still has a hold on the eighth spot in the Western Conference at 28–29 on the season, three games in front of the Portland Trail Blazers, and 3.5 games ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs.

Adjustments will have to come quick, starting tonight in Houston against the Rockets, who will have Russell Westbrook available to play. Westbrook hasn’t played in either game against Memphis this season. The series is tied 1–1.

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