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Memphis Grizzlies prepare for a 4-game-West-Coast-road trip

(Editor's Note: Hey everyone give a nice welcome to Warner Russell. He's going to be contributing some articles around these parts. He's a good man who knows his Grizzlies!)

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I had already planned out how I would preview the upcoming Grizzlies' West Coast trip before last night's Raptors matchup in FedExForum. My writing would have a lot of hope and positivity scattered throughout, because after all the Grizz would be at .500 at that point heading into two games against below average competition, the Lakers and the Kings, and then naturally after easily winning the aforementioned games the team would be 6-4 heading into games against a very good Clippers team and a good Warriors team that happens to struggle against the Grizzlies. I would predict that the Grizzlies would win three of four and come back to Memphis with a beautiful 7-5 record and that the grit ‘n' grind would be back to stay.

But then the Grizzlies promptly went out and got their tails whipped last night. At home! By an INFERIOR OPPONENT! I could go on and on about the disappointment that has stemmed from last night's loss, but it's over, in the past, c'est fini. Let's move on.

The upcoming West Coast swing, the Grizz's first of the year, will see the team face the Lakers (11/15), the Kings (11/17), the Clippers (11/18), and the Warriors (11/20). Four games in six days is never an easy task for any NBA team, but for a team that is struggling to find its identity and to get its act together, this trip is crucial. It is absolutely necessary, should the team want to stay competitive in the West that they don't crumble over the next week. If the Grizzlies were 5-3 or 6-2 heading into this trip and stumbled in a game or two they shouldn't, no big deal. But at 3-5, if the Grizz lose three or heaven forbid all four of these games, then they (and all the fans for that matter) go from panic mode to full on code red, we might not make the playoffs mode. Yes, I understand that is a very bold statement, but if the team I knew last year went on this identical road trip, I would fully expect them to go 3-1 and have serious hope for 4-0. This year, I pray, pray, pray for 2-2. With 2-2 you come back home in roughly the same spot as when you left, but you have two wins on other teams' courts to get you some confidence. Unfortunately 2-2 on this trip still isn't a given with this team, not yet at least.

Grizzlies Schedule

Next 5 Games

@ Los Angeles Lakers Fri 11/15 9:30 PM CST
@ Sacramento Sun 11/17 5:00 PM CST
@ Los Angeles Clippers Mon 11/18 9:30 PM CST
@ Golden State Wed 11/20 9:30 PM CST
San Antonio Fri 11/22 7:00 PM CST

Last 5 Games

Toronto Wed 11/13 L 87 - 103
@ Indiana Mon 11/11 L 79 - 95
Golden State Sat 11/09 W 108 - 90
New Orleans Wed 11/06 L 84 - 99
Boston Mon 11/04 W 95 - 88

I don't want to give an in-depth preview of each of the four games as I know somebody else will be doing that on the site, but here are some brief thoughts for each game.

Los Angeles Lakers: This team is playing with nothing to lose. They were penciled in as losers this season and have outperformed expectations already. If the Grizz can limit the players that are playing at a higher level than they should be (X. Henry, S. Blake, etc.) to their normal production, then they should win this game. The fact the Lakers have won a few games they shouldn't have doesn't necessarily mean everyone was wrong when they predicted this team would be a lottery team. They still have a pretty atrocious lineup and a bench full of D-Leaguers and 3rd string journeymen.

Sacramento Kings: Boogie Cousins, despite being a raving lunatic, is a really great basketball player. If the Grizzlies can frustrate him early, get him in foul trouble, get him pouty, then he will be a non-factor and a win should be in the cards. They have other threats, but there is a reason this franchise has been so bad the last several years. Also, it will be nice to watch Greivis Vasquez play again. I and so many others in Memphis enjoy his game.

Los Angeles Clippers: These guys are on a roll right now. Doc Rivers has got them playing inspired ball. Blake Griffin looks as good as ever. Chris Paul is still the best point guard in the league. Heck, even DeAndre Jordan is playing well. To top it off they are going to be pissed about the way the Grizz ran them out of Memphis in the Playoffs last season. Didn't want to make any predictions in this piece, but if the Grizzlies win this game, I will be absolutely shocked, especially since it's the second game of a back-to-back. This one is going to be hard to win. Really freaking hard.

Golden State Warriors: We saw what the Grizzlies can do to the Dubs last Saturday. The Grizz just present matchup problems for them. If Mike and Tony can lock up the Splash Brothers (Curry and Thompson) and ZBO can absolutely terrorize David Lee like he has on the past few occasions, then the Grizzlies should compete in this matchup. But those "ifs" require three people to play really good games on the last game of a long road trip two time zones away. It's not out of the question for things to go the Grizz's way in this game, but they will be tired and ready to get home. This one is the X factor of this trip. It will send the team home either pretty content or really frustrated depending on the outcome.

This West Coast trip will tell us a lot about the Grizzlies and how the rest of the season might look for them. So far the sample size is still so small and the season so young that it's hard to say for certain that the wheels are falling off or that Joerger is a bad coach or that the team has lost its grit and its grind. Win a few of these games, stay competitive in the ones they can't, and this season looks a little brighter for the Grizz. Come home with three or four losses and get ready for what could be a very long end of the month with the Spurs, Rockets, and Nets looming.

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