If March is supposed to go in like a lion and out like a lamb, the Memphis Grizzlies sure did rip the poor fluffy little month apart at the end. Going into the first of their final eight contests -- a home date with the Golden State Warriors -- the Grizzlies have shown no signs of wheezing to the finish line as the playoffs near.
First, I was going to apologize for leaving you for an ehhh-maybe-maybe-not deserved vacation during such an exciting week for the Grizzlies, but then I remembered it was such an exciting week for the Grizzlies, and you may not have noticed I was away, and that's fine. So yeah; I was gone and now I'm back for the final postseason push, so let's get into it.
The Grizzlies did what they needed to and a little more as the madness of March came to an end, winning four of their last five games over teams they both should have (Utah and Indiana) and, of course, the two wins and near loss to legitimate (albeit banged up) NBA championship contenders in Boston, San Antonio and Chicago, respectively (especially when you remember, as GrizzBro Tom Lorenzo pointed out at the time, Memphis definitely could've won the Bulls game as well).
Currently Memphis stands firm in the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, two games ahead of the only viable threat at this time, the Houston Rockets. The previous five games have only further reinforced this team as a deserving and playoff worthy squad, and maybe drove those who wanted to believe but weren't quite sure when to dive in to, well, freaking dive in already.
And we should. As has been the case during the season's second half, the Grizzlies' identity is that of opposing styles that swirl together into a dangerous and difficult to stop force when the mix is right. The reckless-by-design, manic, high risk/high reward defense and the brooding, deliberate, interior-motivated offense can, on some nights, be balanced into a blend of basketball that frustrates and snowballs on the opposition. This perfect point on the sliding scale is, of course, not an easy thing to accomplish for 48 straight minutes. But the talent on the Memphis roster -- even without Rudy Gay for the rest of this season -- and the way they just really seem to like each other, often serve as reliable substitutes.
That said, there's still eight games left to play before that ol' playoff drought can finally be put to bed. Five home games and three away, with only three coming against teams with postseason records and, all told, the Grizzlies have fared pretty well in those types of games of late -- their last real ugly blemish to my eyes goes back to the loss on January 26 in New Jersey.
Which brings us to the Golden State Warriors: the first and currently most important roadblock on the docket. The Warriors are probably who you think they are. They can pour points all over your head, but you can get yours on the other end too, and that electric made-in-League-Pass-heaven backcourt tandem of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry is nothing to be trifled with.
But the Grizzlies, provided they can keep this game from getting to into some crazy rubberneck pace, should be able to do what they want on the Golden State interior. Their lanky and disruptive wings should be able to hassle Golden State's perimeter game enough so that it can't win a game on its own. And let's not forget, the Grizz have a bit more to play for. That should help too.
Many now believe Memphis should make the playoffs, thanks in no small part to their performances in games like these; where the opponent's record isn't great, but the need for focus and energy is. As the regular season's end draws ever closer, every game's going to need that kind of attention. That should be a good thing for the Grizzlies.
For coverage of the Golden State Warriors, visit Golden State Of Mind.