Sam Amick from USA Today wrote a nice piece on teams who struggled early now making a late push. Most relevant to us is obviously the Grizzlies who have been out of the top 8 seeds in the Western Conference the entire season and could now possibly reach the 5 seed by the end of the week.
Had these winning ways been there since the start, they would be on pace to win 61 games. But after the Grizzlies followed their Conference Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs with a coaching change that was seen as puzzling by many, the combination of Gasol’s Jan. 14 return from an MCL sprain that kept him out for seven weeks and the timely acquisition of players like Courtney Lee and James Johnson has worked wonders.
Despite losing defensive specialist Tony Allen to a wrist injury for most of January and February, the Grizzlies’ defense is back in form. Since Jan. 10, they are third in the NBA in allowing 98.7 points per 100 possessions and aren’t far behind the top-ranked Pacers (97.9).
“The chemistry is the best that I’ve ever seen it in all of my years here,” said Joerger, whose Grizzlies tenure began when he was hired as an assistant coach in 2007. “Guys really like each other. They like playing together. They like traveling together. They’re playing for each other, and I think that’s very positive.