As the NBA playoffs near and the Memphis Grizzlies (hopefully) remain in the picture, here's a weekly reset of where they're at, what lies ahead, and how, in relation to ESPN's John Hollinger's playoff odds, the future looks. Also, determining what the appropriate level of destruction on a campsite, as inflicted by a wild grizzly bear, the Grizzlies' playoff hopes seem to be at (in this case, the more destruction, the better). Just trust me, it'll be fun.
Grizzlies' current record (as of 2/25): 32-27.
Games left: 23.
Current standing in the Western Conference, and the folks nipping at heels: 8th(!); a half game ahead of Utah, two games ahead of Phoenix, and four games ahead of Houston.
Who we're looking above at in the West, with a bit of awe and jealousy: Portland is a game ahead in seventh place; New Orleans and Denver are both two games ahead in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
Where Professor Hollinger has them out West: Currently 7th. Projected: 44-38. Best case scenario: 53-29. Worst case scenario: 36-46. Chance for playoffs: A rather confident-looking 72.3%.
After the visit from Sacramento, Memphis's schedule is just about buzzsaw after buzzsaw, starting with a home-and-home with the West-leading Spurs and wrapping up with a playoff positioning-laden contest with the New Orleans Hornets. The following week doesn't get any easier with Dallas, Oklahoma City, New York, and Miami on the docket, but let's save that for next week.
With two games in three days against San Antonio and a come-down game against New Orleans that isn't much of a come-down at all, in that it could turn out as the most important, playoff-seeding-wise, Memphis won't have much time to fiddle with the controls after the recent trade. Luckily super nice guy Shane Battier can assimilate into any team without much fuss or confusion. O.J. Mayo is going to come in and look to score, regardless of what happened at the deadline. Though his future opportunities to do so may have been pretty clearly written on the wall, I'm still holding out hope for another chance thrown his way.
You'd think these coming weeks are the types a team like the Grizzlies wait for. These aren't the kinds of weeks where they're just muddling around the oft-ignored midsection of the NBA, under everyone's radar, fighting for an eighth seed invisible to all the eyes focused on the East Coast, and all but left for dead as the Old Guard in the West chugs along, biding their time.
These weeks ahead -- this week to begin with -- the Grizzlies can make themselves the story, at least for a couple of nights. It's a big step towards staying in the conversation.
If the playoffs were a campsite, the Grizzlies, if they were wild grizzly bears: have definitely confirmed the existence of an open package of hamburger meat left outside some lazy 9-to-5er's RV. They can smell it, but it's off in the distance a little ways. Still quite a hike to get there, but they've begun lumbering towards that ultimate, raw, bloody prize. Before leaving though, they eat a rabbit, just to tide them over.
Level of destruction: A foreboding feeling should be befalling the campers soon, but no real destruction yet. Unless you're a rabbit.