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Here are 3 things the Memphis Grizzlies must do to save their season

Commercial Appeal Memphis logo Commercial Appeal Memphis 5/5/2021 Evan Barnes, Memphis Commercial Appeal

The Memphis Grizzlies' season isn't in danger, but they're on the verge of losing control after four losses in five games.

Heading into Wednesday's game at the Minnesota Timberwolves, the No. 9-seeded Grizzlies (32-32)  are still  in a good spot to make the Western Conference play-in tournament with eight games remaining. 

"All these games are big, and we have to realize that," Dillon Brooks said after Monday's loss to the New York Knicks. "Our attention to detail, our intensity, and attention to everything has to be heightened."

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Here are three things they should do the rest of the season.

Start Jaren Jackson Jr.

This is a no-brainer. Jaren Jackson Jr. has averaged 21.5 minutes in the six games he has played. The Grizzlies have been careful with his time after returning from meniscus surgery on the left knee.

Coach Taylor Jenkins said he wants to see how well Jackson is playing before switching his role. He added Monday he's discussed the idea of keeping him as a reserve as they weigh all options.

"We want him to get a great rhythm and get comfortable whatever role he ends up playing," Jenkins said. "Just getting back to playing consistently good basketball and he's trending in that direction."

May 3, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) backs in against Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) during the first quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports © Nelson Chenault, Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports May 3, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) backs in against Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) during the first quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

But they can start him while limiting his minutes. Let him get used to more possessions alongside Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas instead of being a sixth man. The Grizzlies can use his offense (13.8 points) to open games instead of in the middle.

Yes, Jackson isn't not shooting well (22% on 3-pointers). He might not play both ends of the Grizzlies' three remaining back-to-backs. But he's still scoring and rebounding well

If the Grizzlies want to re-tool for the final stretch, it's time to start Jackson sooner than later

Stick to certain rotations

The Grizzlies' over-tinkering with lineups has gone on too long this late. Over the last five games, Brandon Clarke, Justise Winslow and Xavier Tillman earned DNP-CDs while Tyus Jones is back into the rotation.

a person on a court: May 3, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Desomnd Bane (22) shoots in the first quarter against the New York Knicks at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports © Nelson Chenault, Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports May 3, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Desomnd Bane (22) shoots in the first quarter against the New York Knicks at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

In that stretch, they've used 62 lineups, the fourth most of the teams ranked 1-10 in the West. The Mavericks (73 lineups) and the Clippers (69 lineups) have dealt with injuries to key players. The next highest team behind the Grizzlies? The Lakers with 54 and they, too, had to handle LeBron James being hurt.

At the end of a season, teams need to stick to what works. Trust what's best and limit the experimenting. The Grizzlies are still tinkering because of their great depth but now, barring injury, it's time to make tough decisions.

Keep Jones at backup point guard. Stick with Desmond Bane and De'Anthony Melton. But Jenkins can't tweak things much longer. They must trust who their 10-man rotation will be and ride it out

Restore the ball movement

Yes, Morant should score more. He had eight points in two of the last three games, which isn't acceptable from the Grizzlies' leader.

It's also obvious Melton and Grayson Allen need to shake their slumps. But more than individual play or better shooting, the Grizzlies need to restore what made their offense work - better ball movement.

a man holding a baseball bat: Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) handles the ball next to Orlando Magic guard Gary Harris (14) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, April 30, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. © Brandon Dill, AP Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) handles the ball next to Orlando Magic guard Gary Harris (14) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, April 30, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn.

They have a six-game streak under 30 assists, their longest since March 12-20. Over that span, they're 23rd in the NBA in assists per game - a far cry being among the league leaders in that category all season.

Fatigue is likely affecting the team's shooting the last two weeks. But in spite of that, they need to keep sharing the ball . They must resist the urge to force one-on-one shots out of frustration.

It will test their discipline and focus but that's the point of these next two weeks. If they want the No. 8 seed in the West, keep sharing the ball and get back to their strengths.

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You can reach Evan Barnes on Twitter (@Evan_B) or by email at evan.barnes@commercialappeal.com

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Here are 3 things the Memphis Grizzlies must do to save their season

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