Game worth circling, toughest stretch in Grizzlies’ 2016-17 schedule

Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies will begin their chase for a seventh straight playoff appearance Oct. 26 against the Timberwolves.

Justin Ford

New coach David Fizdale is no doubt hoping for a smoother ride then when the Grizzlies made the playoffs last season using 28 different players, an NBA record.

Fizdale will make his debut Wednesday, Oct. 26 against the Timberwolves at FedExForum, but it’s only one of the highlights with Thursday’s release of the regular-season schedule, which can be seen in its entirety here.

Who doesn’t love a little sibling rivalry? Now that the Gasol brothers — Memphis’ Marc and newly-acquired Pau in San Antonio — are both in the Southwest Division, that means they’ll meet four times a season. They’ll also face off March 18 and 23 and April 4, but the first meeting will come Feb. 6 on Beale Street, and Marc has some catching up to do. He trails his older bro 9-12, and after sitting and watching the Spurs dispatch the Grizzlies in four games last season in the playoffs while he was out with a foot injury, these games also figure to give he Memphis an opportunity to cement their standing in the Western Conference against a presumed title contender.

December won’t be kind as the Grizzlies play 11 of their 41 games that month — the most they’ve ever played in a single month since moving to Memphis — and it includes Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the star-studded Warriors (Dec. 10th), back-to-backs against the defending champion Cavaliers (13th and 14th), as well as two vs. the Celtics (20th and 27th), a meeting with the Rockets (23rd) and Thunder (29th). A close second to that month is a six-game road trip that runs from Jan. 27-Feb. 4, which is the franchise’s longest since its 2011 move to Tennessee and includes another date with Oklahoma City.

If the Grizzlies are pushing to make the playoffs for a seventh straight time, or if they’re jockeying for position in the standings, they could benefit greatly from the way their schedule ends. The last four games are all in Memphis, with matchups against teams that all figure to be playoff contenders in their own rights with the Thunder, Knicks, Pistons and Mavericks.