I don't know about most of you, but it's been another long week here in Keithiopia. In a week where I picked up close to 50 hours on the job, involuntarily spent a full day in Tupelo, MS, and had one of the more uncomfortable dinner dates of my entire life, I'm happy to have a few days off to relax and get my legs back under me. March is a great time of year to be a sports fan. The weather starts to get a little warmer, spring training begins, March Madness kicks off in college basketball, and the NBA starts to focus it's attentions on playoff time. But with all of these things going on, one thing remains the same; The Grizzlies continue to be good at basketball. It was nice to watch our boys take care of business every time they took the court, going 2-1 this week, falling only in a great game against the defending champs. The winning streak may have come to a close, but after dismantling the Magic last night and having our next 4 games against sub .500 teams, the Grizzlies look primed to start another one. Memphis currently sits a full twenty games over .500 at 39-19, and have cemented themselves as one of the best teams in the NBA. Here's a look at what you may have missed while you were grinding.
Southwest Division: The Spurs were dealt a loss this week, and not necessarily in the standings. Tony Parker is reportedly going to be out four weeks with a sprained ankle, although I personally will be surprised if its longer than two weeks. How did San Antonio respond? They came out and embarrassed the Pistons by a cool 39 points. Detroit may be a D-League caliber team, but I still take it as a sign that Pop won't let the Spurs lose any ground while Parker is hurt, however long that may be. Meanwhile, the Mavs continue to fall out of the playoff race, going 1-3 on the week, including losses to the Bucks and an absolute pummeling in Houston. Might be time to start booking vacation spots if you're Dallas. What is Germany like in the summer time? If you're Houston, you're beginning to look at who you want to face in the playoffs. They have to shore up their defense, they lost to the Magic this week, allowing them to score 110 points, but they haven't scored less than 100 points in a game since February 13 against the Clippers. Chandler Parsons, their starting small forward and one of my favorite Rudy Gay killers, went 12/13 from the field, 6/7 from beyond the arc, for 32 points on Sunday night, and has hit twenty-four (24!) 3 pointers over his last 3 games. New Orleans picked up a win this week, and is currently undefeated in March. (1-0) Fear the Pelicans!
The Rest of the West: Have to start with Steph Curry right here. Curry, the lights out shooter for Golden State, who was drafted behind Hasheem Thabeet, went for 54 points at Madison Square Garden this week, albeit in a loss. He was 18/28, 11/13 from 3, and he made some pretty ridiculous shots. The problem out in Oakland is that despite the highlights and pretty jump shots, they continue to lose games. Just 3-10 in their last 13 games, they currently sit just a half game up on the eighth seed. Speaking of that final playoff spot, the races in the Western Conference are going to be so much fun to watch. I hit on this last week, but its tough to ignore again this week. There are legitimately only 9 teams still competing. I'll listen to your arguments for Portland, but they're 2-8 in their last 10 games, and are fading fast. The Lakers, as awful as they've been at times this season, have a chance to be the team that the number one seed faces in the first round. That's pretty frightening. Three and half games separate the second and fourth seed, and a mere half game separate the sixth and eighth seed, and the matchups, as they currently sit, are setting up for multiple upsets. The Grizzlies are currently locked into a matchup with the Nuggets in the first round. I love this team, but I said at the beginning of the season if this was the 4v5 matchup, I didn't think we would make it out of the first round. Houston is set to square off with San Antonio in the current 1v8 series, and I for one could easily talk myself into picking Houston to upset the Spurs in this matchup. If Golden State can hang onto the sixth spot and the Clippers remain the number three seed, they face off in the first round, and the Warriors won that season series 3-1. There is potential for a lot of chaos this year, and it should make for some great TV. While we're on the subject of great TV, the Thunder traveled to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers Sunday afternoon. The Thunder won after surrendering a big lead, sweeping the season series vs. the Clippers (God that must feel nice). Late in the game though, Serge Ibaka pranked Blake Griffin so hard, getting him with the classic "Hey, do you know what the capital of Thailand is?!" The problem is, the officials didn't find it funny, and neither did his teammates, as it came on a made 3-point basket. It was ruled a Flagrant 1, Blake split the free throws, and then on the extra possession they were granted, the Clippers made another 3, resulting in a seven-point play for that offensive possession. So the question becomes, is this the most costly crotch tap in NBA history? I've crunched the numbers and looked for highlights and videos, and I can't find anything that matches it. It would technically be possible to have a nine-point possession on such tomfoolery (Made 3, sinking both free throws, making another 3 and getting fouled, and making that free throw) but anyone trying to attempt a crotch chop that massive would really have their hands full. (Thanks, I'll be here all week) Another interesting tidbit in this game, Blake Griffin was credited with a block on a Nick Collison dunk attempt. However, if you watch the replay, the actual culprit responsible of keeping Collison from throwing one down was the rim, or maybe gravity, possibly even a little bit of both. It was a truly embarrassing moment for Collison, who should probably just stick to making faces at the camera on NBC's The Office.
Eastern Conference: It was a kind of a rough week for Eastern Conference teams, going a combined 25-26 on the week, but that mainly speaks to how bad some of the teams towards the bottom are. There were three teams that were undefeated this week (Heat 3-0, Celtics 2-0, and Bucks 3-0) and there were five teams that lost at least three games (Philly 1-3, Raptors 0-4, Pistons 1-3, Bobcats 0-3, and Magic 1-3). The talent disparity is pretty uncanny in the East. Miami continues their impressive win streak, which is now at a franchise tying 14 straight games, yet somehow all we can talk about is pregame dunks, a Harlem Shake video, and whether or not LeBron really hurt his knee Sunday afternoon. The Honeymoon is officially over in Toronto, as they now sit 14 games under .500, and 7 ½ back of the final playoff spot. It doesn't help that the Bucks, who currently hold the eighth seed, and new addition JJ Redick, who scored 14, 14, and 16 off the bench this week, are starting to play good basketball. While we are on the subject of good basketball, let's go ahead and change it so we can fit the Bobcats into this discussion. They are pretty terrible at basketball, and I sincerely hope they all got their college degrees, because they're going to need them. They were 0-3 this week, losing by an average of 107-78. Anytime you're losing by an average of 30 points, you're not just doing something wrong, but everything wrong. Cleveland, who was still without Kyrie Irving who has missed a few games with a knee injury, were led this week by the solid rookie Dion Waters. The Cavs are my guilty pleasure, I loved Dion Waiters at Syracuse, it's impossible to not like Kyrie Irving, and they also have our old friends Mo Speights and Make it Wayne Ellington. I'm really interested to watch this team continue to grow. The Wizards are another young team continuing to develop and rise. They aren't necessarily winning a lot of games, but since John Wall has returned, they continue to be a tough matchup for anyone they face. The Pacers, who got Danny Granger back last week, may be in danger of losing him again. He played eight minutes Sunday against the Bulls, going 0-3 in that span, and didn't return for the second half. Hopefully it was just precautionary, you hate to see a guy battle to return and then suffer a setback. The Bulls lost a little ground this week, but not because Joakim Noah didn't do everything in his power to win. I give him a hard time because he looks like he smells, has facial hair like a 14 year old, and is just an overall disgusting individual, but the dude can play. This week, he had a triple double with 23 points, 21 rebounds, and 11 blocks! Still, I refuse to take any arguments on him being the best center in the league until someone can get him to fully grasp the concept of "shampoo." While we are on the subject of best big men in the league, let's talk about Brook Lopez. I think he's extremely talented, and not just compared to his brother, I mean legitimately talented, but I heard two different analysts, who are paid to talk about and know basketball, say that he was a better center than Marc Gasol this week. Marc Gasol, the same player he's gone toe-to-toe with twice this year and gotten beat by. I just find that interesting.
Wild Cards for the Week: I'm not sure how many of you guys actually watch Saturday Night Live, although if you don't, I implore you to start watching this weekend when Justin Timberlake returns to host and be the musical guest, but it was a big part of the original article in this series, and I'm a big fan of it, so I'll probably mention it here from time to time. The host this weekend was Kevin Hart. Can someone please explain what the appeal to him is? I'll award 5 bonus Grind Prophecies points to anyone who can deliver a clip of him that actually succeeds in making me laugh. I feel like everyone in the world got together and decided to pretend he was funny just to piss me off. It worked, you guys, let's go ahead and stop doing this bit. Please.
Friday night, the Ravens made Joe Flacco the highest paid quarterback in NFL history. Flacco of course helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl this year. Now, anytime you are making history-breaking money, people are going to debate whether or not you're worth it. One of the arguments I keep hearing is that "Flacco has never even been to a Pro Bowl!" This one really grinds my gears. When people talk about the Pro Bowl, what's the first thing they say? "It's a joke! It's ridiculous! Let's get rid of it! I hear Hawaii has a chicken problem!" Yet, inevitably, when we're debating a player's overall merit, we throw out the phrase "He's a Pro Bowl caliber player" or "He's never been to a Pro Bowl." Just stop it. It can't be both a sham and a barometer, it just can't.
Finally, if you haven't seen this game winning shot yet, please, do yourselves and everyone else in the world a favor and check it out. Words do not exist that can adequately describe the sheer insanity of what happens in these three seconds. Actually, there is an old Gaelic phrase that would come close, but just watch the video.