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Five Questions for the Grizzlies stretch run

I talk with GBB’s very own, Parker Fleming, about what to expect as the regular season winds down.

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San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

With only 13 games to go, the Memphis Grizzlies are second in the Western Conference with a 48-22 record. The Grizz have been one of the most exciting teams in the NBA this season and have exceeded all expectations, but with regular-season success comes postseason goals. Memphis faces nine playoff and play-in teams in their final 13 games, so come mid-April this team should be battle-tested.

Looking forward, I talked with Parker Fleming, of GBB, about what to expect for the remainder of the season and what this team can do come playoff time.

1) The Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors are neck-and-neck for the two-seed in the Western Conference. Who do you think comes away with that second spot?

It’s a tough call. Golden State is getting Draymond Green back, and his return should fortify their defense in this lackluster stretch. The Memphis Grizzlies also have the 10th-most difficult schedule in these final 12 games, while not playing their absolute best basketball. It’ll boil down to the final day, but I’ll give Memphis the edge here.

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

2) The Grizzlies play the Warriors, Jazz, Nuggets, and Suns down the stretch. Memphis is 8-2 against those teams this season. Are you confident the Grizz will be able to carry their regular-season success against the West’s top teams into April and May?

I’m pretty confident it can to an extent. With the Warriors and Suns, it’s a mighty “we’ll see,” given their combination of talent and experience. The same can go for the Utah Jazz. I’m confident in Denver, especially if Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.’s statuses remain uncertain.

3) What is the key to maintaining momentum ahead of the playoffs?

It’s going to be 3-point shooting threats. Desmond Bane is the only reliable 3-point weapon in a probable playoff rotation — though Ziaire Williams has shot really well recently, he’s not a lock for rotations. They’re going to need an emergence from 3-point range to continue this momentum. It’ll serve as a boost to the halfcourt offense while giving Ja Morant more space to operate in driving lanes. The players to watch here are Jaren Jackson and Dillon Brooks.

Memphis Grizzlies v. Houston Rockets Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

4) Is there a player that you want to see more from as the regular season concludes?

I’d probably say De’Anthony Melton. He’s had a rollercoaster year as an offensive weapon, as it’s looking like he’s taking on more of a gunner role. He’s vital to the team’s defense with his deflections, steals, and rebounding. He’s also the main perimeter weapon off the bench. As the team needs a boost from the perimeter, it’d be nice to see him build solid momentum in this area ahead of the postseason.

5) Who is the Grizzlies’ ideal playoff matchup? What team is the worst-case scenario?

Ideal: Denver. Obviously, there’s an asterisk next to this because of health issues. If Murray and Porter Jr. aren’t in the fold or 100%, it makes game-planning less difficult. The Grizzlies are up 3-0 in the season series, and their series finale on 4/7 could make this statement more definite — or murkier.

Worst-case: Dallas. They pose problems defensively with their size, and they have a generational talent on the other side in Luka Doncic. Granted, they made things less challenging trading Kristaps Porzingis, but they also became more potent and balanced offensively. They’re still a dangerous team that’ll pose problems for Ja Morant and the Grizzlies.

Thank you, Parker, for forecasting the coming months for Memphis. Hopefully, the Grizzlies live up to expectations. Make sure to follow Parker (@PAKA_FlOCKA) for some great Grizz content.

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