Every once in a while, as we wander the desert that is the NBA offseason, the powers that be allow us a small morsel of basketball sustenance.
The 2017-2018 NBA schedule was released last night, and the Memphis Grizzlies will be opening their season on Wednesday, October 18th at home against the New Orleans Pelicans. Three nights later they will welcome the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors to the friendly confines of FedExForum.
But those are just two of the 82 contests on the slate for the latest edition of the Memphis Grizzlies, and there are plenty of storylines to be had. Here’s just a taste, as surely the NBA schedule breakdown is just beginning.
Memphis and National Games
The Grizzlies are not playing on national TV very much this season. Is anyone surprised anymore?
Each team's number of national TV games overall and by network. pic.twitter.com/CZ2ZpGWEo7— Yaya Dubin (@JADubin5) August 14, 2017
Only the Chicago Bulls (5), Orlando Magic (4), Indiana Pacers (3), Atlanta Hawks, and Brooklyn Nets (2 each) have fewer nationally televised games than the Grizzlies. Memphis is tied with Detroit and Charlotte with 8 total national TV games.
Of course, the smaller market aspect of the Grizzlies plays directly in to this. But it also shows that the TV schedulers don’t really see Memphis being too competitive this season. In fairness, if health remains a concern they probably aren’t wrong, but a healthy Grizzlies team is a likely Western Conference 5 or 6 seed, and you would imagine that type of team would be on the national stage a bit more often.
Alas, it’s not meant to be. More Pete Pranica and Brevin Knight is not a bad thing. The Grizzlies have never been national TV darlings - for another year, they will remain a League Pass favorite. At least Memphis is back to playing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day this season, as they should be. They take on the Lakers at home in FedExForum.
The Space Between (Games)
The season is starting about two weeks earlier than it did last year. That’s surely in an effort to reduce the benchings that occurred in those four games in five nights stretches, considering those slates of games have been eliminated from the schedule. One cannot help but wonder what that kind of change would have meant for the older Grizzlies of the past few seasons, but while age isn’t as big of an issue for Memphis, health surely is. More time off between games can only help keep the Grizzlies on the court health-wise...
Seeing Old Friends
Zach Randolph and Vince Carter will take on their old mates three times this coming season, with two of those match-ups coming at home. FedExForum was home to some pretty special moments for those two, especially Zach of course, so those games will be emotionally charged. The first time Memphis will take on Z-Bo and Vinsanity in Sacramento Kings purple and white will be New Year’s Eve out in Sacramento.
Old Faces in New Places
The Grizzlies will end their season with two games on the road against two teams who arguably made the biggest trades this offseason - Jimmy Butler and his Timberwolves, and Paul George with the Oklahoma City Russell Westbrooks (Thunder). Memphis will see both of those squads four times this season.
Memphis somewhat surprisingly plays the same team two games in a row three times - those squads are the Mavericks, Spurs, and Thunder. Considering none of those teams are overly far from Memphis, and two of them are in the same division of the Grizzlies, this seems to be more of a scheduling quirk than anything. Still, playing two top teams like the Thunder and Spurs consecutively could be a beneficial playoff preview potentially.
The NBA season begins in 64 days. It’s close, Grizzlies fans. Enjoy the rest of your summer - it will be basketball time in Memphis again before you know it.