The Memphis Grizzlies have had a very up and down season filled with injuries. Despite a tumultuous NBA season, Memphis has locked themselves in a three team battle for the final two playoff positions in the West. They will be looking to reach the postseason for the fourth consecutive year.
The Grizzlies currently hold the tiebreaker over the Phoenix Suns and sit in seventh place in the Western Conference with a record of 44-30. After a loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Dallas Mavericks now sit a half game back of both Memphis and Phoenix. The final two spots in the West are still up for any of the three to grab.
Reigning defensive player of the year, Marc Gasol has missed over 20 games for the Grizzlies this year, and despite his absence, the Grizzlies playoff hopes have stayed alive. With Gasol out of the line up, Zach Randolph has played huge minutes for the Grizzlies.
Like he has done for much of his NBA career, Randolph is averaging a double double on the year with 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds. He has been a workhorse in the post for the Grizzlies and been their main source of offense for much of the season. Another key player to the Grizzlies success this NBA season has been Mike Conley.
Conley has started at point guard in all 65 games he has played this year. He is leading the team in assists with 6.0 per game, and second on the team in scoring with 17.3 points per game.
Rookie head coach Dave Joerger, has had a tough first season at the helm of the Grizz, but he has held his own and helped Memphis maintain their reputation as a defensive powerhouse. On the season, the Grizzlies allow 94.1 points per game, which is third in the league. They will need to keep their defensive tenacity to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Player to Watch in the Playoffs
If the Grizzlies do manage to advance to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, much like year’s past, they will need to focus on their defense. The two best defenders on the Grizzlies are Marc Gasol and Tony Allen.
Both players have missed 20 or more games this season due to injury, so their health will be the first question heading into playoffs. If both are healthy, they turn the Grizzlies into a terror on the defensive end.
Having won the defensive player of the year award last year, there is no doubt that Marc Gasol is a defensive juggernaut in the paint, and he is leading the team in blocks again this season with 1.37 per game. At 32-years-old, Tony Allen is still one of the elite wing defenders in the league and is leading the team in steals at 1.64 per game. The NBA playoffs are all about defense, and to be at their best on that end of the floor, the Grizzlies will need Gasol and Allen to be healthy.
How Will Their Season End
The Grizzlies are coming off a postseason run that was ended in a 4 game sweep at the hand of the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals. As of today, the Grizzlies would face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. The Thunder would not be a good match up for the Grizzlies, and if the playoff seeding stays this way, expect Memphis to make an early first round exit.
The Grizzlies like to play a slow-paced half court game and swarm you with their defense. The Thunder on the other hand, like to run up and down the court and score easy buckets in transition. The Grizzlies would rather play a slower paced team similar to them, such as the San Antonio Spurs.
Look for the Grizzlies to make it into their fourth postseason appearance in as many years, but if they do not avoid the Thunder, they will be heading home in the first round.
NBA Daily is a daily series providing commentary, predictions, and analysis of events surrounding the NBA.
Commentary By Eric Kummel