With media day behind us and training camp beginning today, it is time to do what bloggers and talking heads do best- blindly predict how the team will do this coming year. For this article, I wanted to break down the Grizzlies’ schedule month-by-month and key in on which stretches are most important.
There will be numerous storylines that will develop throughout this season. Player X will be injured for a stretch, Player Y will be rumored in a trade. All these things are inevitable, especially with the Memphis Grizzlies. For this breakdown, though, it is assumed that the team will stay healthy and together. Let’s see how this season will shape up.
A fast start is critical for the Grizzlies. As we saw from last year, if the Grizzlies can win games early they can have some high hopes for at least the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, injuries derailed the momentum from last year, but this season, if the team can stay intact, it could make for season expectations to rise.
To start the season, it is a tough game on the road against the Indiana Pacers. No one knows how the Pacers will look, but it is almost certain Tyreke Evans will be thinking about showing the Grizzlies front office what they missed out on. Then the Grizzlies come back and open at home against the Hawks. It should be a happy home opening for Memphis. These next games will define the month. Home against the Suns and Wizards and on the road to face the Kings and Jazz. If they can find a way to find a winning record in this month, it could be the momentum needed.
My Predictions: @IND- L, ATL- W, @UTAH- L, @SAC- W, PHX- W, WAS- W
As November comes, the team will start to get back to their normal basketball routine. About three games a week and the toll of the season starts to ramp up. For the Grizzlies, the early November stretch will make or break this team in my opinion. In this stretch, they will be facing seven playoff teams from last season in their first nine games of this month.
Even if the first half of the month is not positive, the Grizzlies will have to stay calm and compete in these winnable games at the end of the month. The Mavericks, Knicks, Nets, and even Clippers (hopefully all without Jimmy Butler) are all games Memphis should win. If the Grizzlies can somehow go .500 through this stretch that would give the team and fan base loads of confidence moving forward.
My Predictions: @UTAH- L, @PHX- W, @GSW- L, DEN- L, PHI- L, UTAH- W, @MIL- L, SAC- W, @MIN- L, DAL- L, @SAS- L, @LAC- L, NYK- W, TOR- L, @BKN- W
Record: 9-12 (5-10 in November)
After a rough last month, the Grizzlies need to focus through December if they have any shot of making the playoffs in the competitive West. With Minnesota in turmoil, there could be an another opening from the playoff teams last year. However, it is going to take the team’s best effort to stay .500 through this month as well.
The Grizzlies face ten playoff teams from last season, not to mention two games against the Lakers in this month who, of course, a guy you may have heard of in LeBron James. With this November and December gauntlet, it will be crucial for the team to not stay down for long. This is a really rough group of games for Memphis, but if they can find wins here or there and not expect perfection, the playoffs will still be attainable.
My Predictions: @PHI- L, LAC- W, @NOP- W, LAL- L, @DEN- L, POR- W, MIA- L, HOU- L, @GSW- L, @POR- L, @SAC- L, @LAL- L, CLE- W, BOS- L, @HOU- L
Record: 13-23 (4-11)
Even as my predictions are not very flattering for the Grizzlies, they bounce back if they are anywhere around .500 coming into January. Beating the bad teams is something the Grizzlies did not do well last year, and it is something that will determine if they make the playoffs this coming season. Beat the teams you are supposed to and go from there.
The biggest thing of January is taking advantage of a key stretch of home games in the back half of the month. After getting back from Toronto, the Pelicans, Hornets, Kings, Pacers, and Nuggets all come to FedExForum. The team has to take advantage of this stretch of home crowds against beatable teams. If the Grizzlies could pull a five-game win streak out of those games, the success could continue the next games at Minnesota, at Charlotte, and at New York carrying over into February.
My Predictions: DET- W, BKN- W, @SAS- L, @NOP- L, SAS- W, @MIA- L, HOU- L, MIL- W, @BOS- L, @TOR- L, NOP- W, CHA- W, SAC- W, IND- W, DEN- L, @MIN- W
Record: 22-30 (9-7)
February is also a month that features Eastern Conference teams to take advantage of. It is where the wins will come from as has been mentioned before. By this time in the season, the rosters on some teams will look completely different than the start of the season. The All-Star Break will include rumors of all sorts which will change most of these games down the road.
Still, if the Grizzlies can keep chipping away at their record month by month, February is one they can gain some ground.
My Predictions: @CHA- L, @NYK- W, MIN- W, OKC- L, NOP- L, SAS- L, @CHI- W, LAC- W, @CLE- W, LAL- L, CHI- W
Record: 28-35 (6-5)
The playoff race will be determined coming in to March and April. The Grizzlies will know if there is a fighting chance or not to compete in the race. The front office will (may) keep in mind that if their pick is not in the top 14 then the pick is conveyed to Boston. This becomes something that should weigh heavily on the decision making of who to start or sit. If Gasol and Conley get some extended rest, you will know why.
However, if the team is anywhere near contention, this month could prepare them for some postseason basketball. I would predict that .500 or a little better would be the 8th playoff spot, so that is the record the Grizzlies should strive for to at minimum make the playoffs.
My Predictions: @DAL- L, @OKC- L, POR- L, UTAH- L, ORL- W, @ATL- W, @WAS- L, HOU- L, @ORL- W, MIN- W, OKC- L, GSW- L, @PHX- W, @LAC- L
Record: 33-44 (5-9)
The final stretch. It will be the final push, or it will be conversations about playing time for the younger guys. No one wants an April like last year. It just is not good for anything unless the Grizzlies have already gone full tank mode. In a perfect world, they will still be fighting for that playoff berth. Games against Detroit and Dallas x2 are the winnable games here. Plus, maybe a season ending home game against Golden State who are resting their players.
My Predictions: POR- L, DAL- L, MEM- W, @DET- L, GSW- W
Record: 35-47 (2-3)
As a recap, the November and December months are going to determine everything about this season for the Grizzlies. The playoffs are possible, but the team is going to have to grind out some impressive wins in those two months. After that stretch, the schedule opens up to be much more manageable against the weaker Eastern Conference.
My prediction is 35 wins for the Grizzlies. It is a step up from last year, but still not where any fan wants the team to be. At the end of the day, it will just be great to have basketball back in our lives.