The question is eternal: “how badly do you want it?”
For the Memphis Grizzlies, they still have an opportunity to finish the season with a winning record for just the fourth time in franchise history.
But they’ve put themselves in a precarious position to get that accomplished.
Sloppy play against both Dallas and Houston have the Grizzlies’ hopes for a winning season on the slim side. To finish above .500, the Grizzlies need to win three of their last four games and that’s a monumental task given that three of the four are on the road and all of the roadies are against Western Conference playoff teams jockeying for seeding: San Antonio, Denver and Oklahoma City. No one is shutting anything down early, of that you can be assured.
And while the Grizzlies have said all the right things about finishing strong, their play has been lacking in losing six of their last seven.
More than anything else, the Grizzlies have slipped into bad habits from the first nine games of the season and all of last season: turnovers, defensive lapses and lack of ball movement.
Last night against Dallas, the Grizzlies kicked the ball away 20 times, leading to an astronomical 30 points for Dallas. By way of content, the Grizzlies give up about 18 points per game off their turnovers — among the league’s worst. The Grizzlies also failed to protect the paint as Dallas ran a layup line in the fourth quarter, including a Jason Terry dunk. Nor did the Grizzlies share the ball: a paltry 12 assists (7 by Mike Conley).
And did I mention the 67% free throw shooting?
That’s not to pile on the Grizzlies, but when you don’t pay attention to detail, you revert to bad habits and the Grizzlies have reverted to the kind of basketball that doesn’t fare well against more focused teams such as Houston and Dallas.
Lack of focus and concentration results in a lot of one-on-one basketball (12 assists), bad decisions (20 turnovers) and missed opportunities (eight missed free throws in 24 attempts). Lionel Hollins has pushed all the right buttons with this team, but when they throw the ball up, it’s on the guys in the short pants who have to make it happen.
The Grizzlies have a day to take stock and figure out just how badly they want that .500 or better season and just how hard they’re ready to work against a San Antonio team that is trying to steal homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.