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On Monday, the Memphis Grizzlies faced their first game after the All-Star break against the Golden State Warriors. It was also the game that marked the return of their all-star guard, Ja Morant. Morant had been out since January 4th with an ankle sprain, and his return was highly anticipated by both fans and team members. What was even more surprising was that Ja came off the bench and brought an enormous contribution to the game. Despite the limited minutes, he scored seventeen points and four assists, ultimately leading the Grizzlies to a 128-97 victory.
Many expected that Ja would start the game as he is the Grizzlies’ best player, but instead, head coach Taylor Jenkins had him come off the bench. Some are skeptical of this decision, but it proved to be the right call as Morant gave the team an immediate and much-needed spark. His speed, agility, and tenacity were all present, and even more potent after having been given a long break from playing.
Morant appeared to be focused and determined in this return game. His minutes were strategically managed, and he was given enough space to navigate the platform without anxiety. As the game unfolded into the second half, he showed his deep understanding of the game and took the wheel to direct his teammates where to be and what to do with the ball. His instinct in knowing how to set up his teammates with crisp passes from angles that only he can create had the crowd and the Warriors defense in amazement.
Morant has an exceptional and unique skill set that is difficult to defend. He is fast and can quickly change direction on the basketball court, and he knows how to get in position to make a play. His ability to shoot the ball from the outside was displayed early in the game, and it made the Warriors defense more challenging to deal with as Morant continuously found the open spots on the court to shoot from beyond the arc. The Grizzlies as a team went on to make 11 of 25 (44%) threes thanks to Morant’s presence.
Morant is also a master of the pick-and-roll, one of the most popular maneuvers in the game. It is a potent scoring action that can create multiple options for a team, and Morant seamlessly integrates this move into his basketball playbook. He has an excellent sense of timing and patience when it comes to reading the opposition and knowing when to make the right move with the ball. He propelled the Grizzlies in a very efficient way, finishing with an impressive shooting rate of 7-8.
Ja’s return from injury is a testament to his resilience, and it was an inspiration to both his teammates and fans alike. Even though he was out of commission for almost two months, he came back with the same explosive energy and drive that made him an All-Star in the first place. His performance on Monday shows that he’s fully recovered, and that his physical and mental readiness for the game is back to its prime.
It’s exciting to imagine what this could mean for the team going forward. The Grizzlies are currently sitting at the eighth seed in the Western Conference, and with Ja Morant back in the lineup, it’s reasonable to assume that they will continue their remarkable run towards making the playoffs. The Grizzlies have been on a hot streak as of late, winning five out of their last six games. Their defense has been excellent, and their understanding of the game appears to be growing day by day. The fact that they won in such an emphatic fashion without Ja starting only adds to their momentum.
In the end, Ja’s return to the court represents a significant milestone for both himself and the team. Despite his young age, he has already made a name for himself in the NBA, and he’s been recognized for his exceptional skills on the court. His 17 points in 19 minutes off of the bench demonstrated his return to form and his tenacity to complete the game.
Overall, Monday’s game was a testament to the character of the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant’s comeback game show his continuing growth and potential as a superstar talent in the league. As the Grizzlies head into the final part of the season, it’s reasonable to assume that Ja Morant will continue to lead the team with his fierce athleticism and tenacity to win as they gear up for what could be a deep playoff run.