The Memphis Grizzlies entered their opening round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers with high hopes after an impressive season which saw them win 51 games and secure the second seed. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off late in a disappointing performance which saw them lose their home court advantage. Jaren Jackson Jr was a lone shining light for them in the game, with their other starters failing to bring the level of play of which they are capable. These are three Grizzlies players who should shoulder a lot of the blame for their Game 1 loss.

Ja Morant

It may seem harsh to include Ja Morant in this list given the hand injury that has him in jeopardy for Game 2 of this series. Certainly he wasn’t responsible for the late-game collapse which saw the Grizzlies go from four points in arrears when Morant was subbed out with a little under six minutes to go, to 16 points by the end of the game. For the 30 minutes that he was on the floor, however, Morant wasn’t exactly at his electric best.

From a scoring perspective he was solid enough, scoring 18 points on 8-14 shooting, but he managed just two assists to go along with that while turning the ball over six times. He struggled to get into any sort of offensive groove throughout the game, and lacked both the aggression and execution which have helped to make him one of the best players in the game. Unfortunately he didn’t have the opportunity to make the game his own down the stretch as a result of his injury, but had he played more like the star of the league that he is for the first three-and-a-half quarters, the Grizzlies would likely have been in a better position than they were when he was subbed out.

Desmond Bane

Aged just 24, Desmond Bane is already a very good player, and in his first extended playoff run last year certainly couldn’t have been accused of faltering under the bright lights of postseason basketball. The elite shooting for which he has become so renowned, however, was notably absent from his game on Sunday afternoon.

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Bane filled the stats sheet with 22 points, five rebounds and six assists, but he lacked his typical efficiency, going 6-18 from the floor and 3-10 from long-range. For a guy who has shot over 40% from long-range every year of his career and whose field goal percentage typically hovers just under 50%, it was an off performance from a shooting perspective. He was far from the worst player on the floor and still contributed in various ways, but he’ll need to be more efficient moving forward, particularly if Ja Morant is forced to miss any games.

Dillon Brooks  

Dillon Brooks has made it abundantly clear throughout the course of the season that he can talk, but the 27-year-old didn’t exactly walk that talk in the Grizzlies’ series-opener against the Lakers. He’s certainly not renowned for his efficiency; he went at 39.6% from the field this year and for the past couple of years his three-point percentage has hovered in the low 30s.

On Sunday afternoon, he was even less efficient than that. He scored 15 points on 5-13 shooting and didn’t contribute a whole lot else, grabbing just four rebounds and a couple of assists. Brooks will never be a superstar and sits a fair way down the Grizzlies pecking order, well behind the two names mentioned above as well as Jaren Jackson Jr. Against a talented Lakers team that will invariably find a way to put up points, however, they’re going to need a little more efficiency from their loquacious small forward.

The Grizzlies were far from disgraced in their opening game of the playoffs, and the 16-point margin by which they lost wasn’t indicative of the closeness of the game throughout. There were, however, plenty of players who played below their best, and were it not for Jaren Jackson Jr’s terrific game they could easily have lost by a lot more. Add Ja Morant’s injury to the mix, and you’ve got a pretty disappointing day for the young Grizzlies. Fortunately they’ve got plenty of scope to improve going forward, and each of the aforementioned three names need to be front and center of that improvement if they’re to get near the Lakers.