Important Pre-Lottery Preparation
(if this isn’t for you, please scroll down to the rankings)
If this is your first time doing a ticket lottery, there are some important things to do before dividing up the tickets. First, the most important thing that any group can do is have all participants agree to whichever method for picking the lottery BEFORE it starts.
Like in fantasy football drafts, most participants do a snake draft in which everyone picks a game, then you go in reverse the next round. If you want everyone to have a fair chance, you can do an auction draft and set a "dollar" amount to buy games. It really doesn’t matter which way you choose to do it, but make sure it is agreed upon by everyone. Nothing is worse than starting to pick and finding that someone is confused and/or angry with the process. Try having all the rules agreed upon at least a day early, ensuring you can go straight into the lottery without any problems.
Now as far as individual preparation, you should bring at least two lists with you. The first list should be a full schedule so that you can initial who received which game. It’s common sense. The second list needs to have the "team against", date, and day of the week on them. I can’t stress enough how important it is to put the date and day of the week on that list. The last thing you want to do is pick a game on a day of the week in which you can’t attend. Do you only want to attend games in October and March? I would guess not. Know the dates. Lucky or not, the Grizzlies will play all of the Southwestern Division and most rival teams twice. If you want to spread out your games, pay attention to which game you select.
I know most of this sounds like common sense, but believe me, I’ve been involved in situations where people were not prepared, and it can make you want to drive your head through a wall. For the very first Grizzlies season, it took over a half an hour before we could even start to draft due to complications in draft order. In the next year’s draft, another individual felt like they didn't get a chance to select enough good games. With the exception of the first and second pick, everyone has a fair shot at getting any game they want, so if you don’t take my advice and prepare beforehand, it will be no one’s fault but your own for your selections.
The Schedule Breakdown
After examining the schedule, the Grizzlies' "easiest" month appears to be in December where they will play 9 out 14 games at home. However, 3 out of the 4 matches against the Spurs happen in December along with matches against Houston, Dallas, and Cleveland. March appears to be the most brutal as far as travel and rest. They will play 9 road games and have 5 back-to-backs. The most glaring month is February, in which the Grizzlies have over two weeks between home games due to the All-Star Break. Overall, the schedule seems pretty balanced with no huge roadtrips.
When it comes to selecting tickets, generally weekend (Fridays included) games are most attended by fans, and the Grizzlies play 20 of them at home. Most home games will be at 7pm Central with the exception of all Sunday games (5pm) and the MLK day game (4pm).
Now I am going to rank the Grizzlies home games in the order they should be picked in a lottery ticket draft. Some Eastern teams will be ranked higher than more elite teams due to the fact that the Grizzlies will only play them once. For Western teams that the Grizzlies play twice, it is really up to your preferences. I personally would choose the latter of the two games since they may have greater significance. Last year was a great example of how the last games of the season can feel like an extended playoff atmosphere.
The Top Eastern Conference Games:
1) vs Cleveland Cavaliers Mar 25 (Wed)
Unless you've been in a coma these last few months, you probably know Lebron is back with Cleveland. There is no way this game isn't a sellout, which unfortunately means there will be a ton of James supporters in the crowd. While annoying, it is awesome to watch the Grizzlies beat any team with Lebron James and keep his cheering section quiet. This is by far the hottest ticket of the season.
2) vs Chicago Bulls Dec 19 (Fri)
This game is fairly early in the season so there is a decent chance Derrick Rose will still be healthy and playing. Adding the fact that Chicago should be first or second in the East makes this a must have game. Oh, and it is the only time you will get to boo Pau this year.
3) vs Washington Wizards Apr 4 (Sat)
This is an example of a game that would be lower except that the Wizards only come to town once. Along with the above teams, I think John Wall and Paul Pierce will be competing for the top spot in the East and it should be a fun game to watch.
4) vs Los Angeles Clippers Nov 23 (Sun) & Feb 27 (Fri)
I hate the Clippers. You hate the Clippers. We all hate the Clippers. If the Grizzlies can keep their fans quiet, the Grindhouse is always the loudest when the Clips come to town.
5) vs Oklahoma City Thunder Jan 31 (Sat) & Apr 3 (Fri)
ZBo vs Adams: Round 2. Enough said.
6) vs San Antonio Spurs Dec 5 (Fri) & Dec 30 (Tue)
Have you heard this before: "The Spurs are done"? Yeah, it is said every year and means absolutely nothing. Though the outcome never seems to be very favorable for the Grizzlies, the games at home usually come down to the wire and are fun to watch.
7) vs Los Angeles Lakers Nov 11 (Tue) & Mar 6 (Fri)
Yes, even with Kobe, the Lakers will be terrible. Despite this, the Lakers are ranked high because these games will be one of the few sellouts of the season. If you can’t stand being surrounded by Bryant jerseys cheering for Nick Young, then the tickets should be easy to sell to Laker fans that are unaware that Kobe isn’t playing.
8) Minnesota Timberwolves Oct 29 (Wed)
This is the first game of the season. The Grizzlies tend to have a bad habit of losing their opening games, but hopefully they can start off this season on the right track. As an added bonus for this game, fans in attendance will be able to say they were the first ever to see Andrew Wiggins play in an official NBA game. Also, there will definitely be some sort of Grizz giveaway. Go get that swag.
9) Indiana Pacers Apr 15 (Wed)
This is the last game of the season. No one really expects the Pacers to be that great this year, but if last season is any indication, the Grizzlies will probably need to win these critical last games to help playoff position. And Grizz giveaways!!!
The 2nd tier Eastern Conference Teams:
10) vs Brooklyn Nets Feb 10 (Tue)
It’s the return of Lionel Hollins. Will fans boo? Will they cheer? I have no clue. I do however expect the over/under for the negative interviews about Memphis to be at 1.5 prior to the game. If Lionel’s return isn’t a big enough draw for you, there is also a possibility of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams playing, if they aren’t already injured.
11) vs Miami Heat Dec 7 (Sun)
When you remove Lebron James and add Luol Deng, it places this game in the meh category. I say that because if Wade is out, you are only coming to watch Chris Bosh play. Were you excited to go Toronto games when Bosh was the only star? Yeah, me neither. Something tells me that there will be more Grizzlies jerseys than Heat for the first time in four years.
12) vs New York Knicks Jan 5 (Mon)
Only time the Knicks and Melo come to town. The downside to this game is that it’s not really a premium game, and it will be filled with Knicks fans. The upside is that the Grizzlies usually crush them at home, so why not go see it.
The Rest of the Southwest Division: aka the Nightmare Gauntlet
13) vs Dallas Mavericks Dec 9 (Tue) & Jan 19 (Mon) MLK day
Dirk and Parsons should provide some entertaining basketball this year in Dallas, and like last year, these games will be pivotal for playoff position. The MLK day game is the only nationally televised game in Memphis, which has an early tip-off at 4pm.
14) vs Houston Rockets Nov 17th (Mon) & Dec26 (Fri)
The Grizzlies should have won all 4 games last year against the Rockets, but fizzled out in the 4th quarters. I’m guessing Dwight Howard still hasn’t figured out how to play against our bigs, and James Harden won’t be getting free trips to the free throw line, so the Grizzlies should have the upper hand in these matches.
15) vs New Orleans Pelicans Nov 3rd (Mon) & Apr 8 (Wed)
A buzzer beater by Conley saved us from being swept in a series by the Pelicans, and that was with Anthony Davis sitting out. This year, Davis and his team should be trending upward if they can stay healthy. One thing is for sure: there are no freebies in our division.
The Best of the Rest:
16) Phoenix Suns Jan 11 (Sun)
17) Golden State Warriors Dec 16 (Tue) & Mar 27 (Fri)
18) Portland Trailblazers Jan 17 (Sat) & Mar 21 (Sat)
19) Toronto Raptors Jan 21 (Wed)
20) Atlanta Hawks Feb 8 (Sun)
21) Charlotte Hornets Dec 12 (Fri)
With maybe the exception of the Warriors, these games fall into the category of "it’s cool if I get to see them, but I’m not upset if I miss it"
The Bottom of the Barrel:
22) Boston Celtics Nov 21 (Fri)
23) Milwaukee Bucks Mar 14 (Sat)
24) Philadelphia 76ers Jan 24 (Sat)
25) Sacramento Kings Nov 13 (Thu)
26) Orlando Magic Jan 26 (Mon)
27) Detroit Pistons Nov 15 (Sat)
28) Denver Nuggets Jan 29 (Tue) & Mar 16 (Mon)
29) Utah Jazz Dec 22 (Mon) & Mar 3 (Tue)
Unless they have a special place in your heart, these should be the last games picked*. The only thing that may increase their value is if any of these games are Grizz giveaway games.
*you will also have to divide up preseason games. I’m not reviewing them because no one wants to pay for preseason games and most people don’t bother going to them.