With the 96-85 win over the Dallas Mavericks the Grizzlies move to 8-2 in their last ten games. That stretch included eight home games and a lot of middle tier competition. No, the Grizzlies still don’t have a win over an elite team that was fully healthy at the time. Then again, which teams are truly elite this year? And how many teams are fully healthy?
No, I don’t believe the Grizzlies team that took the floor last night is capable of winning a playoff series. However, that was never the goal. The goal was to hold steady until the return of Zach Randolph* and the Grizzlies have more than done that. The Grizzlies surge has been marked by simply taking care of business.
Taking care of business might not sound overly impressive but look around the NBA this season. As a result of this crazy condensed schedule, weird stuff happens every night. Even the upper echelon teams all have at least one loss to a team with a losing record.
In the West the Thunder, Spurs an in my opinion the Clippers are probably all safe in terms of making the playoffs. Some might argue for Dallas or against Clippers and that’s fine. The point is that there are roughly five spots open to eight teams. Of those eight, the ones that make it will be the ones who take care of business. By that I mean win at home and don’t drop games on the road to bad teams.
The Grizzlies have a real opportunity to continue the hot stretch and provide a cushion for what is a brutal start to April. It will all depend on the ability to handle bad teams on the road. Six of the next 10 and 11 of the next 16 games are on the road. The combined record of the next 10 opponents 138-209. The combined record of the opponents from the previous 10 games in which the Grizzlies went 8-2 is 184-168.
The opponents get easier but most of the games are away from Fedex Forum where the Grizzlies have been inconsistent. The last two games in that stretch mark the start of a West coast road trip. The Grizzlies historically struggle with such trips and went 1-3 on a similar one earlier this season.
The good news is that of the next six road games four are against teams with losing records. The Grizzlies are 5-2 on the road against sub .500 teams. The next ten games will go a long in way in determining whether the Grizzlies will be scratching and clawing for one of the last two postseason slots or making a push to host a first round playoff series.
*Randolph will not play this weekend but is likely to return in the next week.
**Houston counts twice since the Grizzlies played them two times in the 10 game stretch.
Now some quick highlights of last night’s game…
Conley notched his sixth double-double of the season and matched his third highest scoring output of the season with 20. This game was pretty much the Mike & Marc show and it was fun to watch. Conley was the best version of himself. He was disruptive on defense with four steals and aggressive on offense. Conley continues to be impressive going towards the goal despite his size. Five of his seven field goals were inside the paint.
Shocking, right? Gasol has been a straight stat stuffer recently. There are few things in basketball more beautiful than a big man who can pass. He has been dropping sick dimes on a nightly basis and it seems his first triple-double is a matter of when not if.
In the last five games Gasol is averaging 16.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.8 blocks. It inspired my new Lost-esque tradition of tweeting simply his stat line followed by MG33 (his initials and number). Last night’s: 22 11 5 4 MG33.
He left the game in the first quarter with a back issue and did not return. I wouldn’t have traded the win for a healthy Dirk but I was looking forward to seeing him play. Nowitzki and Blake Griffin are the only two NBA stars I haven’t seen live. Technically, I haven’t seen Derrick Rose in the NBA but saw a lot of him at the University of Memphis.
Backup Point Guard
I’m retiring this as a “bad” after this recap. It’s too obvious and unlikely to change outside of a trade. I mention it now only because Josh Selby was given the nod in his first game back from his D-League stint. It was more of the same. Both Selby and Pargo can penetrate and get to the rim. Outside of that, they have the same flaws. Neither is capable of running the offense which led to the insertion of O.J. Mayo at point last night.
Many of the halftime productions in the NBA rotation are quite entertaining. I’m particularly fond of the girl who shoots a bow and arrow with her feet as well as the Red Panda. Others range from boring to just sad but last night was something different entirely. I’ve never dropped acid but I can only assume it’s something like this. I give you the Human Slinky…