Tonight, the Grizzlies head down to New Orleans for a divisional matchup against the Hornets (I could make some sort of Pelicans joke there, but really, are we over that yet?) and, yes, they should be able to just waltz down there and come home with a win, but it’s the NBA, so that’s always easier said than done.
The real importance of this game — and every game the Grizzlies play the rest of the season — is playoff positioning. Right now, the Grizzlies are barely still in third place in the West, but the Denver Nuggets are on a terrifying roll through the league right now (they’ve won 14 in a row) and the Clippers have a slightly easier schedule the rest of the way. The Clippers are going to win the Pacific division, so they can’t finish lower than a 4 seed.
Which means… it’s possible that the Grizzlies could end up as a 5 seed playing the Clippers. Which, I mean, I might light myself on fire if that happens. Another first round series against those guys? After last year’s 7-gamer, which was slightly less enjoyable than stabbing myself in the eyeball with a stick?
What I’m saying is this: the cliché is that "every game matters" in the NBA. A lot of times, it doesn’t feel true, because teams are coming off back-to-backs and they’re just tired and so they go into a game expecting to lose. And when they do lose, we say, "well, it’s only the regular season." But now, at the end of the year, when the race for third place is this right, it turns out that every game did matter, and you sure wish they’d played better against, say, the Pacers on New Year’s Day, or better against the Mavericks and Clippers and Spurs on that string of 20-point blowout losses before the Rudy Gay trade.
Since those games didn’t matter, now this one does.
- You just know that Greivis Vasquez wants to be on the All-Time Griz Killer team with Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin and Nick "I Foul Z-Bo" Collison. One of these games, dude is going to go off and score 20 points and rack up a triple double against his former team. With any luck at all, the Grizzlies (and especially Mike Conley) will be able to keep that from being tonight. Save it for next year.
- Last time these two teams played, Anthony Davis had 20 points and 18 rebounds. The Grizzlies still won that game 96–85, but that kind of performance can’t be allowed to happen. Of course, that game was also played while Zach Randolph sat with an ankle injury, so Big Boss Man Ed Davis got the start. One hopes that the Grizzlies will be able to do a better job of controlling the interior on defense tonight.
- Jerryd Bayless has been playing absolutely fearlessly as of late. It’s led to some pretty stupid things happening, but it’s also led to an overtime victory over the Thunder at home. Let’s hope that we get more Good Bayless than Bad Bayless tonight. And let’s also hope that we see some of the Tony Wroten and Jerryd Bayless backcourt we all love so much tonight. Wroten has potential to be an X-factor off the bench in a playoff series if he can keep from turning the ball over, and I’d like to see that developed a little more down the stretch. Tonight’s game is one that the Grizzlies are "supposed" to win, so maybe Lionel Hollins will feel like letting the young fella get some run tonight. Otherwise, we’ll have to break out the #FreeWroten hashtag again.
At least until next season, when they’ll actually be the Pelicans, and we can start making all sorts of "scoop" and "fowl" jokes. Man, that’s going to be awesome. ↩