Since the last time we checked in, the Memphis Grizzlies scored impressive victories on a back-to-back, but book-ended those with a tough couple of losses. So, with a Saturday-Monday-Thursday slate ahead, let's see after the jump where the Grizzlies (and their animal counterparts) stand as we prepare for the Ides of March.
Grizzlies' current record (as of 3/11): 36-30. Games left: 16.
Current standing in the Western Conference, which is, yeah, the same: 8th; a game ahead of the Phoenix Suns, the Indiana Jones of staying alive in the playoff hunt; a game and a half above the Utah Jazz, who just don't seem as Jazzy anymore; and three games ahead of the Houston Rockets, who, at 33-33, should probably just drink a lot of Rolling Rock.
Who we're looking up to in the standings; hey, it changed a little: The New Orleans Hornets are a game and a half ahead in seventh place, and have won the first two games out of four against Memphis; the Portland Trail Blazers are two games ahead and the Denver Nuggets are two and a half games up in sixth and fifth place, respectively, and Portland is playing pretty awesome right now, so kudos to them.
Where Professor Hollinger sees the Grizzlies out West: Currently 8th, dropping two spots from 6th last week. Projected: 45-37. Best case scenario: 52-30. Worst case scenario: 38-44. Chance for playoffs: A still-pretty-solid-looking 70.3%.
The 70.3 percent playoff chance has the Grizzlies remaining in good shape, especially with their biggest threat, Phoenix, coming in at 39.2 percent. But the 13.8 percent decrease from last week is a bit worrisome and the drop back into the eighth position has to be largely due to the New Orleans loss. The Hornets are sitting a spot above in the West and need one more win out of the last two against Memphis to clinch the head-to-head tiebreak; that series could go a long way towards the Grizzlies' possibilities for anything higher than the eighth seed. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The loss Wednesday to the Knicks may have stung more because of how it all went down -- buzzer beaters are never fun on the losing side -- but that loss last Friday to New Orleans inflicted more damage in the grand scheme of things.
Still, Memphis won their season series with Phoenix if things were to get hairy, and as for Utah, we'll wait at least another week before we start worrying about them again.
Memphis will take their turn in the national spotlight/microscope/shitshow when they visit the Heat on Saturday. Whatever happens, the outcome will be beaten to death by Sunday morning, so it'd be nice if that time was spent -- in between Miami Heat psychoanalysis and insult lobs, of course -- looking at the Grizzlies and their recent string of high-level play. Really, the Grizz likely will be an afterthought regardless, but we'll settle for a win and getting the hell outta Miami before all the yelling starts.
Monday's return home to face the Clips, with a Knicks rematch in New York on deck, has the makings of what the suit-wearing folks would call a trap game -- if it were the Clips of year's past. But as they've been all year and showed with a win in Boston on Wednesday night, Los Angeles is athletic, dangerous, and equipped with Blake Griffin. If you let them get off to a fast start (they dropped 60 in the first half against the Celtics), you're in for a shootout. Then again, they're 7-25 on the road this season as of Friday morning, so we've got that in our favor.
The Grizzlies head to Madison Square Garden on Thursday to finish the crazy comeback they started Wednesday night, before 'Melo had to go and be a dreamkiller. Read my fellow GrizzBro Tom Lorenzo's stellar recap of Wednesday's game for more details. I'll only add that I too look forward to the rematch.
So basically, all the Grizzlies are doing this week are facing three of the most talked-about teams in the NBA this sesaon. No question their wins over the Spurs, Mavericks and Thunder last week got them some positive attention from around the basketball universe. This week they'll be getting noticed no matter what or how they do, mostly via highlight packages centered around their opponents.
The Grizzlies can change the focus of those highlights through outcomes worth talking about.
If the playoffs were a campsite, the Grizzlies, if they were wild grizzly bears: ran into a few packs of rival bear gangs with mixed results. Also, their collective decision to make a game of taking turns sticking their snouts into a hornet's nest and seeing who could last longest was, in retrospect, a poor choice. Still, swollen snouts and all, the grizzly bears continued to make progress towards that bonfire-smelling campsite by knocking around the rival bear gangs, both young and old alike, and catching more rainbow trout in a three-day endurance competition than the rest. Much respect was earned, and morale is high as the journey continues.
Level of destruction: The bear's sense of smell for a few days wasn't quite right, but the rainbow trout population took a pretty big hit.