The Grizzlies have won two dang games in a row. That’s the kind of uptick that’s been increasingly rare this season.
But it can be diluted by the dog days of the season. Memphis has already been long eliminated from the playoff race. Most other teams have their fates decided at this point. The Warriors are sitting all their stars to injury and rest and they just have the second seed. The Celtics are coasting until Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart get better for the playoffs. Everyone is hurting.
What the Grizzlies are doing shouldn’t be fully discounted. Just maybe slightly coupon discounted. The Warriors and Cavs get opponents’ very best every night, the Grizzlies get somewhat lax efforts. Hell, Damian Lillard missed the matchup in Memphis to witness the birth of his child (as he should).
There are just seven games left in the season. That’s a small sample size. Remember the first seven games where we started 5-2? The last seven games will matter even less, even if we go 7-0.
Memphis and its players won’t throw away these games. Not only the veterans like Marc Gasol who have been competitive every night, but all the young players and assets under 25 who are trying to make a name for themselves.
MarShon Brooks signed a 10-day and lead the Grizzlies to a win in his first game. He lead the night with 21 points and hit tough shot after tough shot. He legit looked amazing on Wednesday night.
Wayne Selden and Dillon Brooks have been balling too. Selden has been scoring 12.3 PPG on 48.9% shooting in the past 10 games, Brooks has notched 13.6 on 41.9% in that same span. Granted a couple of shooting stinkers, he’s been doing well in the final stretch of the season. Selden too, who also has been bringing great defense.
The reliance on young guys is what’s fueled a better performance lately. Marc Gasol sat the most important part of the 4th quarter against the Blazers, and dare I say it, the Grizzlies were better off for it. They can play a faster pace and get transition buckets when players like Jarell and Deyonta are on the court as opposed to Marc.
That’s not what makes it terribly important, however. As with any rebuilding team, there’s bound to be a lot of roster turnover going into next season. These last seven games are going to be the very last chances for the young players to make cement their status on the team going forward.
Listen, nothing a player can do in a 7-game stretch is going to drastically re-write the book on their future. But it can fully solidify already held notions by the front office. And for MarShon Brooks and Marquis Teague, this stretch is the ONLY chance they have to impress Grizzlies brass.
And Bickerstaff has got to be thinking about the limited games he may have remaining. There may have been rumblings from Grind City Media that he’s deserving of the permanent job, but I am not convinced, and I doubt I’m the only one with reservations about it.
Bickerstaff is 14-42 this season and 51-76 in his career, good for a winning percentage of .402 (yikes). I’m all for second chances...but this his is second chance. If Memphis is going to be completely swayed into hiring him based on these remaining games, they’re fools. But they probably already have an opinion on his future in Memphis, a hot stretch can either confirm that opinion or give them second thoughts.
There are just seven games left in the season. A limited time, but still tangible. Instead of throwing away the season and completely admitting defeat, the Grizzlies can use it to their advantage. Time is running out on how it is they can do so. But for the remaining time they have, they need to keep relying on young players and their young coach.