Before the season began, Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley made a promise to fans that his team would make the playoffs this year. Coming off a 40 win season with three guys averaging 18 a game or better, this didn't seem to be an overly egregious statement. At the current moment, however, the Grizzlies find themselves sitting 2.5 games behind the eighth seeded Portland Trail Blazers, with a record of 19-22. There's still a lot of season left to play, and the Grizzlies hope there are more wins than losses on the table. I've broken down the Grizzlies remaining schedule into three stretches to examine whether or not this team can or will make the playoffs. To make it a bit more interesting, I've named the stretches after famous women, and I think each is a pretty fitting match.
January 19-February 04----The Sarah Silverman Stretch
Sarah Silverman is pretty hot. She's thin, has a great body, and is hilarious. However, she's not gorgeous, she's not untouchably hot. She's very "gettable," much like this stretch of the season. The Grizzlies are going to face a lot of good opponents, and starting tonight play five of their next six on the road. The thing is, none of these teams is elite, although you can make the case for Orlando. No one on this schedule is an unbeatable team, regardless of how many times we refuse to beat the Rockets. Even with four straight road games, this is a very winnable stretch of games against very beatable teams with a combined record of 155-251. With eight games against teams with losing records coming up, you have to believe the Grizzlies like their chances. Winning less than six games over this stretch is a disappointment.
Projected record after February 4th: 26-25
February 5-March 17----The Natalie Portman Stretch
Natalie Portman is all kinds of gorgeous. The lips, the eyes, that voice...I'll stop there cause I'm getting all worked up. Point is, she is too hot to handle. The games in this stretch have Natalie Portman's name written all over it. At Houston and San Antonio, home to a Lakers team that hasn't forgotten how badly we humiliated them a few short weeks ago, at Miami and two against a very good Knicks team? *Cliche alert* This stretch of games will make or break the Grizzlies playoff chances. Combined record of these opponents: 304-267. However, just like Natalie Portman is in a whole lot of movies, the Grizzlies should hold their own in a whole lot of these games. They bost wins over 7 of the 13 teams they'll face on this schedule. This will be an extremely tough test for the Grizzlies, and I don't care who your parents are, even 50% on this stretch could be an A.
Projected record after March 17: 33-34
March 19-April 13-------The Megan Fox stretch
Megan Fox, a Memphis native, is a saucy little vixen. In her very short career, she's already made herself into something of a sex symbol. I have never met a man that doesn't think Megan Fox is a hottie hot hottie. And she's pretty slutty. She'll get with basically anyone. But lets all be honest, there's just something about her, isn't there? There's just something that, if she was laying in your bed saying "Come and take me, Big Daddy," you just wouldn't be able to pull the trigger. Sadly, I feel that the Grizzlies will have a shot to win almost all of these games, but something tells me they'll fall a bit short in more than most. Maybe thats the inner Braves fan in me, having watched several great teams fail to win the World Series. Maybe thats the Grizzlies fan in me. (We're talking about virtually the same team that led the league in blowing leads of 10 points or more last year) I sincerely hope I'm wrong, and that the Grizzlies can figure out a way to win these big games, but I definitely won't bet the farm on it. The record of these combined teams is currently 236-211, so its not nearly as tough as the last stretch. I just fear that a lot of these moments may become bigger than these guys and they might not be able to get the job done. Rudy Gay will be the key factor in this stretch. Zach Randolph is going to get his points, but Rudy was in Turkey last year and he saw and experienced what it took to win in big moments. If he can bring that to the court and take a huge step in becoming a better leader and more elite player, then the Grizzlies will have a nice shot at making the playoffs.
Projected record after April 13: 39-43
If these projections hold true, Memphis will once again be on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs go, and will be in an even bigger threat of contraction. A lot of this could change, especially if Denver ends up trading Melo and whoever took over O.J. Mayo's body lets him have it back, and if Tony Allen and Xavier Henry get healthy. But as of right now, I wouldn't book playoff tickets just yet.