After what has seemed like an exhausting week for the Memphis Grizzlies, we should take comfort in knowing they rallied to survive its ugly start with a pair of superb wins, and now, it's finally the weekend. The Grizz will have no time to reflect on much, however, as their three-game road trip continues tonight with a stop in Oklahoma City and on Sunday, with a matinee in Boston.
It's going to be another interesting weekend for Memphis -- especially tonight.
For as dismal as the Grizzlies' week began, following that loss in Phoenix with a slogfest of a game against San Antonio -- where the Grizz simply had run out of everything and were in great need of a recharge -- with Tuesday night's (the second of a back-to-back, so no recharge at all, really) impressive multi-comeback overtime win over the Denver Nuggets and last night's beat-down of the Atlanta Hawks, a team caught on one of those nights this season where it's just not gonna happen for 'em, was typical Memphis.
Especially that Denver game. It was, for the most part, an ugly affair, with the Grizz doing anything they could to keep the Nuggets close while they figured out their offense, which was pretty brutal last week. Finally, their defense wore down Denver enough to force some crucial turnovers, easy baskets came, and the Grizzlies seized a pretty huge win. Without that one, who knows what happens in Atlanta? Now, momentum is back with this team as they head into Oklahoma City.
Momentum, that look a team has of being in a solid rhythm, is at once the easiest and most difficult thing to control this head-spinning season. The Grizzlies began the week looking tired and lost on the offensive end. But as quickly as a four-game losing skid can accumulate, so too, can a team-wide adrenaline shot be injected with an inspiring win like Tuesday's. Against the Nuggets, Memphis seemed to remember who they were and what it is they do. It's important, sometimes, for a team to reaffirm it's identity through this mess (when it certainly has one, as Memphis does) when it's probably hard to remember who played who last night. Worry about your own damn selves, in other words.
Tonight, the Grizz again face those Thunder, who've won the first two meetings between these squads so far this season. It's early to call this a full-fledged rivalry at this point, but these teams know one another pretty well; as the top representatives of the Western Conference's Small Market Contenders, familiarity probably breeds contempt. Memphis has been close in those two losses, but when it counted, the Thunder have made the plays, made the shots, for the final separation.
As I've mentioned before, it's a regular season all about surviving, rather than making statements. Games with Oklahoma City, because of last spring, do feel more like measuring stick games than others, especially with the way they're trying to run away and hide with the West. Tonight, though, the Grizzlies can gain some real steam for themselves with a win, for at least a night, and the teams that can stay self-propelled longer have a better chance at surviving.
It's clear that these Grizzlies have resiliency in bundles. A win or loss here doesn't spell anything much more than that, as momentum can be applied and reapplied like sunblock. We all know, though, that Memphis getting that first win over the Thunder since the postseason last year would probably mean a little more, no matter how many games they've played this week.