Welcome to the first installment of “The Wild, Wild West,” where we see where the Grizzlies fall in the playoff picture and assess their best match-ups.
As we’re halfway through the season, the Grizzlies have certainly been a surprise. Behind the excellence of Marc Gasol and Dave Fizdale, the Grizzlies are out to a 24-16 start (5th in the Western Conference), despite the absences of Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons.
Yes, I didn’t mention the Warriors, but why waste time thinking the Grizz could realistically catch them?
The Rockets are bound to slip soon, right? (Been saying this for the past 2 months, and it still hasn’t happened).
The Grizzlies lost their chance to gain significant ground on the Los Angeles Clippers, last week. It was surely a game they should’ve won, since the Clips were without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. While they missed on a significant opportunity for a home-court advantage in the first round, the Grizzlies could still close the gap.
Below the Grizz
5. Utah Jazz 24-16 (tied; 1-2 in season series)
7. Oklahoma City Thunder 23-16 (half game behind)
8. Portland Trail Blazers 17-23 (7 games behind)
Barring any catastrophe, the Grizzlies should be clear from the 8th spot.
However, they must hold off Utah and Oklahoma City. Both teams have enough firepower to make a surge in the standings. In addition, the Grizzlies need to capitalize on these match-ups to avoid being on the losing end of a tiebreaker.
Thunder. While Russell Westbrook is an absolute phenom. Their core doesn’t hurt others significantly. The Thunder may have the point guard advantage, but the Grizz have just about every other advantage.
Rockets. An elite defense against an elite offense. Sounds nice, right? If the Grizzlies’ perimeter defense is on, then this matchup is favorable. Besides, does anyone else think Clint Capella or Nene can stop Marc Gasol?
Clippers. This series is by no means a landslide for both teams. There’s one interesting x-facor in this match-up: Chandler Parsons. He has yet to be healthy against them. Furthermore, it’s the Clippers’ weakest position. It’ll, once again, be a fun 7-game series.
Jazz. These two teams are identical, but the Jazz could give Memphis fits. The trio of George Hill, Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert has an absurd 24.4 net rating. While this team is dangerous, experience could very well prevail.
Warriors. The Grizzlies have won twice, but a series against four All-NBA player isn’t the most desired match-up.
Spurs. If I wished for a Spurs playoff series, it’ll result in the Grizz getting swept. No thanks.