Memphis Grizzlies have improved eight spots in Defensive Efficiency rankings since Marc Gasol's return from injury

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference a sharp mind in a monstrous, 7-foot-1-inch 265 lb body can make.

After the game vs the Atlanta Hawks on 1/12/2014 the Grizzlies ranked T-23rd in the defensive efficiency rating, allowing 105.2 points per 100 possessions.

Six games after Gasol's return from injury and the Grizzlies have improved that rating from T-23rd in the league to T-15th, now allowing 103.5 points per 100 posessions.

Generally speaking, it's hard to move up and down these rankings at the season progresses because your progressively new results carry less and less weight as they are averaged in with the previously played games. So to see the Grizzlies slide on up eight spots in 6 games in fairly impressive to me, and it also speaks volumes to the effect of Marc Gasol's defense (even as he works back into shape).

While the Grizzlies' offensive proficiency has waned in the light of Marc's return, the defensive boost seems to have allowed Memphis to summon the GnG animal spirit that won them so many games last season.

In the six games prior to Marc Gasol's return the Griz allowed an average of 99.33 points per game while scoring 106.5 points per game for a 4-2 record.

The six games following Big Spain's reinsertion has seen the Griz allow 86.17 points per game while scoring 90.33 points per game for a 5-1 record.

It's interesting to note that we're allowing 13 fewer points while scoring 16 fewer points ourselves, but winning more (and against better competition, arguably).

There's definitely more nuanced effects from Marc's return to the Grizzlies to influence those numbers either way, but the results of his return are hard to argue seeing as how the Griz just held one of the most prolific offenses in the NBA to an average of 84 points over 2 games. If Memphis can pick up the offense just a hair or two (which they will), then we're looking at a team more closely resembling the dreaded Grizzlies of 2012-13 who no one wanted to play.

Unless Memphis parlays their offensive performance from last night into consistency we may be experiencing a lot more down-to-the-wire games like the past two Friday nights. But I'm good with that. Those are the heart-attack-Grizzlies that I've come to know and love. Better stock up on fish oil.

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