Grind Prophecies: Wading through the Memphis Grizzlies playoff hopes

Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

With 27 games remaining, and the Grizzlies currently 1.5 games out of eighth place, can they make the playoffs? Yes. But it won't be easy.

If you caught either of the live recaps last week, or the GBB Live podcast, you know that I've been nursing a cold for the better part of two weeks. (If you didn't catch them, shame on you! Do it now.) Now, you probably hear that, and just brush it right off, because everyone gets colds, and truthfully, they aren't that big of a deal. But me, I hate colds. Not because you feel so bad, but specifically because you don't feel so bad. Running at about 75-80% really pisses me off. I'd rather be on my deathbed, with literal minutes to spare before I pass, than have a cold. They're just so darn inconvenient. You have to breathe through your mouth all the time, your body is cranking out mucus like Adam Sandler cranks out bad films, and everything tastes like bottled lemonade.[1]

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When you're under the weather, you're in a weird way. You're not too sick to move, but you definitely don't feel like going out. So you sit at home and you find things to do. Pathetic things. One of the things I found myself doing this week-and there's really no easy way to say this-but one of the things I found myself doing was reading some of my old tweets. I know, I know...judge away.

As I'm reading some of these tweets, I ran across something that made me feel uneasy. It wasn't spelling errors or the always growing stack of tweets about my undying love for Nasim Pedrad; it was about our Grizzlies.

"June 12, 2013- My coworker just tried to tell me the Grizzlies won't make the playoffs next year. I give up."

Now, this tweet was in reference to this guy and everyone else who was dramatically overreacting to the hiring of Dave Joerger over Lionel Hollins, and obviously, no one could have foreseen the myriad of injuries the Grizzlies were going to encounter, but the reality of the situation is this: the Grizzlies are still a couple of games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, and face a tough climb to make it there.

We've been talking a lot recently about the daunting schedule in March, and when you take a look at it, it doesn't seem to be that difficult on the surface. We've got Utah twice, and games against Philadelphia, Washington (without NeNe), Cleveland, and Charlotte; all very winnable games. Part of the problem is, the Grizzlies have already suffered losses to two of those teams.

Another part of the problem is the overall structure of the schedule. The Grizzlies have six back-to-backs left on their schedule, including four games in five nights from March 11-15, and three of those four games are on the road against two teams the Grizzlies have already lost to. They also still have to face the defending champs twice, another four game west coast road trip, and single games against Indiana, San Antonio, and Dallas. This is not the schedule you want to have when you're sitting on the outside of the playoffs looking in, but it's not all bad news.

As tough as the schedule is constructed, almost every game is one the Grizzlies should either be favored in, or should still find winnable. The combined record for the Grizzlies opponents entering play tonight is 604-525. That's a little top heavy though, thanks to the games left against OKC, Miami, San Antonio, and Indiana. Remove those four teams, and the combined record falls to 438-468, a much less formidable number.

The schedule is one thing, but we also have to keep in mind we still have at least one team to jump over. The Grizzlies still sit within 3 games of the 6 seed, so it's very possible they could climb over Phoenix, Dallas, and Golden State. Those three teams have 26, 25, and 24 games left, respectively. If you project that out at their current winning percentage, not even taking strength of schedule into consideration, you have Golden State at the sixth seed winning 50 games, Dallas in seventh with 49 wins, and Phoenix in the final spot with 48 wins. The Grizzlies own the tie-breaker over the Suns, and if they win their remaining game against Golden State, will own it over the Warriors as well. So realistically, we are looking at a scenario where the Grizzlies need to go 20-7 over their final 27 games if they want to make the playoffs. That puts them at 51-31, and if you can't make the playoffs with 50+ wins, you really just have to tip your cap and move on.

Since the beginning of the calendar year, Memphis' record is 18-7, putting them pretty much right on pace for what they would need to be to finish 20-7, and that's with Conley missing 7 games (4-3 in his absence) and Gasol still rounding into form. It might be a daunting task, but it is well within the realm of possibility. They're going to have to work hard though, and basically treat every game from here on out as a must win. That means no slip-ups, and no trap games. Win the games you're supposed to win, and that starts tonight against the Lakers.

Grindmaster from last edition was split between Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.

  1. Game Score and Winner (correct predictions receive 3 points, if no correct predictions, 1 point awarded to member(s) with closest differential)
  2. The Grindmaster (3 points awarded to correct predictions; if Grindmaster title is split between 2 or more players, 2 points go to each member who predicted one of those players)
  3. Total combined assist for the Gasol brothers (3 points awarded to correct predictions; 1 point awarded to the member(s) closest without going over)
  4. True or False: Memphis will finish with a higher three-point shooting percentage than the Lakers (3 points awarded to correct predictions; 0 points awarded to incorrect predictions)

Grind Prophecies February Leaderboard

Grind Prophecies 2013-14 February Rules


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[1] I f you're not familiar, bottled lemonade is the undisputed worst taste in the world. Don't believe me? Run to a gas station right now and buy a bottle of Minute Maid Lemonade.

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