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GBB Roundtable: Breaking down the 2022-23 regular season schedule

What are games and stretches to watch in the regular season?

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Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Five Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies schedule is out, and for a lot of people, it leads to a lot of planning. People that cover sports for their career are seeing which nights and games they’ll be working. Season ticket holders find out which games they can and can’t attend. Fans from out of town look for the best opportunity to catch a game in person.

It’s the only exciting thing that really goes on at this part in the offseason.

To continue our schedule breakdown, I host a roundtable with Brandon Abraham (@bcabraham), Shawn Coleman (@StatsSAC), Bryson Wright (@BrysonWright3), and Xavier Dotson (@ZaytimeTakes)

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors - Game Six Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

1) If Jaren Jackson Jr. is back by December 1st, where do you think the Grizzlies will fall in the standings?

Brandon Abraham, GBB Assistant to the Site Manager: I think the Grizzlies are a top 5 team in the NBA in the standings come December 1st. Not having Jaren hurts, but the schedule is pretty soft to start the season. Replacing JJJ and his defensive impact is apples and oranges when comparing to how the Grizzlies were able to play without Ja Morant last season, but I expect the team to be able to navigate it’s way through the first month and a half of the season without much trouble.

Shawn Coleman, GBB Associate Editor: The Grizzlies will likely be in the middle of the Western Conference’s Top 8 teams, which is perfectly acceptable without a player of Jaren Jackson Jr.’s caliber. This team has plenty of experience of how to win without their best talents, and Ja Morant knows how take over when it is needed. The Grizzlies depth will once again prove to be an asset that translates to regular season wins.

Bryson Wright, GBB Senior Staff Writer: Looking at the Grizzlies’ early season schedule it does not look extremely difficult. They will have some tough games thrown in against Minnesota and Boston, but many of their first 20 games are against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year or have very different teams than last season. Even though Jackson will be out, the Grizzlies will benefit from their roster continuity and hunger from last season. I think they should be in the 3-4 range on December 1st.

Xavier Dotson, Co-host of “The Core 4” Podcast: Middle of the pack in the West. The Grizzlies have to capitalize on a solid start of the season. Within October and November, the schedule strength is in their favor. They have to take advantage and win a majority of games.

Parker Fleming, GBB Site Manager: The league did the Grizzlies a solid by giving them a lighter load at the start of the season. Several of the teams at the start of the season will have their eyes on ping pong balls. They will have several challenges at the start of the year — looking at matchups with Boston, Dallas, Minnesota, and New Orleans — but they will also be at home for the most part. It’s probable they hover around the 3-6 range, if Jaren Jackson Jr. isn’t back before December.

2) Which part part of the schedule that worries you the most

Brandon: The final 10 games of the season worries me the most. They have some cupcakes against the Rockets and Thunder, but also some tough matchups against the Clippers (twice), Bulls, Trail Blazers, Bucks and Pelicans. Depending on the standings and where all those teams are, a couple of wins or losses could be the difference in hosting a first-round playoff series or having to participate in the Play-In.

Shawn: The Grizzlies have a pretty tough stretch of competition within the first 20 days of March. Not only will the competition be tough, the Grizzlies will be facing many teams that they will be fighting for playoff position against. This is also the stretch of the season where fatigue can catch up with teams, though Memphis’s depth and youth can help in that area. Along with plenty of division games sprinkled into the schedule, the Grizzlies surviving March could be what defines their season.

Bryson: The Grizzlies longest West Coast road trip from January 20-27 will be tough. 5 games starting with the Lakers the a back-to-back with the Suns and Kings. It ends with games against both the Warriors and Timberwolves, their 2022 postseason matchups, which should be hard fought contests as well. These trips always seem to be tough for the Grizzlies and this season won’t be any easier.

Xavier: I feel the late December stretch looks worrisome. From Dec 12-31, the Grizzlies face the Hawks, Bucks, Nuggets, Warriors, Suns (2x), Raptors, and the Pelicans. I want the Grizzlies to have momentum heading into the Christmas game against the Warriors. The Grizzlies can pile up losses during this stretch of games. Every game matters if teams are healthy this season (I don’t wish injuries on any players) in the West.

Parker: There’s a 10-game stretch between March 3-20 where they have a 3-game road trip against the Nuggets, Clippers, and Lakers. Then they come home against the Warriors and Mavericks — and back on the road for games against Dallas, Miami, and San Antonio. Wrapping up that brutal stretch, they’ll have another 2-game homestand against the Warriors and Mavericks. That’s going to be a defining stretch for the Grizzlies, and it’ll have major implications on their seeding.

3) What’s the most crucial stretch of the season

Brandon: The end of the 2022 calendar year is the most crucial stretch of the season for me. Jaren Jackson Jr. should be back or close to a return while the Grizzlies have 3 straight National TV games. Matchups against the Nuggets, Suns, Warriors, Raptors and Pelicans over the final 10 days of the year can be where the Grizzlies prove their contender status and show last year was not a fluke.

Shawn: While an obvious answer is multiple stretches in March, I actually think the first two weeks of the 2023 calendar year is a critical stretch for the Grizzlies to dominate. Memphis will play eight games in a 14 day stretch against seven teams that picked in the lottery in the 2022 draft and a Utah team that may be without Donovan Mitchell. This also could be the time of the schedule where Jaren Jackson Jr. truly returns to form. A long winning streak could be huge during this part of the schedule before Memphis takes on a tough schedule after the All-Star Break.

Bryson: March will have a lot of interesting matchups for the Grizzlies, especially when it comes to possible seeding. They will have multiple games against Dallas (3) and Golden state (2) along with Denver, the LA Lakers and LA Clippers. Based on how the standings look at this time, this stretch could be the difference between at least playoff series with home court and the play-in game. They will also have 5 National TV games in that stretch, including 4 in a row for the first time ever.

Xavier: The beginning of the season. As I said, the Grizzlies must take advantage of the less competitive part of the opening season. During this time, you are without Jaren, as well you can learn different rotations and gain the trust of rookies and players. We cannot afford a sloppy start to the season when it becomes more vigorous in December.

Parker: I’ll likely say that same 10-game stretch in March — and with 5 of those battles on national TV, added exposure could help launch a big run. However, for the sake of having a different answer than before, there’s a 5-game road trip against the Lakers, Suns, Kings, Warriors, and Timberwolves that could also be pivotal for the Grizzlies’ playoff seeding and contender status.

Phoenix Suns v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

4) Which home game are you’re looking forward to the most?

Brandon: It will feel like forever to get there, but the first home Warriors game on March 9th is the most appealing to me. The playoff loss won’t be as fresh, but sparks seem to fly anytime these two teams share the court. Assuming there is more trash talk to come with the Grizzlies to visits to the Bay prior to this matchup, I’m sure Draymond Green and company will have more words to motivate these Grizzlies and fire up the fans.

Shawn: The Grizzlies’ New Year’s Eve game against the Pelicans in Memphis really stands out. Not only is it a game against one of Memphis’s biggest rivals, its a pretty awesome opportunity for two teams to end 2022 against each other when both franchises expect big things to happen in 2023. Zion and Ja facing off before plenty of celebrations begin? That will be an exciting matchup to put an exclamation point on a great 2022 for the franchise.

Bryson: The MLK Day game is always one of my favorites, because growing up it was one of the few I could go to. This year playing against the Suns will be a fun game to go to as well.

Xavier: The Timberwolves on November 11th. What Grizzly fan couldn’t forget that emotional rollercoaster of a series we had against the Wolves last playoffs. AntMan and Ja are, of course, going to be highly competitive. The two teams matched against each other, bringing an exciting, anticipated game each time. Not to mention it’s a nationally-televised game as well!

Parker: The November 11th matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves should have a lot of people buzzing, especially if both teams are off to a good start. After a thrilling first-round series last season, both teams are poised to run the West in the 2020’s, and the Timberwolves made a splashy move to get started on that quicker than before. Ja Morant and Anthony Edwards are young superstars as well. It should just be an exhilarating game.

5) Which Christmas sweater you’re wearing for the Christmas Day game?

Brandon: Time will tell but it certainly won’t be Royal Blue and Yellow.

Shawn: Steven Adams as Santa Claus? Seems appropriate to rep the most interesting man in the world for the most wonderful time of the year.

Bryson: Definitely a Grizzlies Christmas sweater I just have to find one before then. If not does a Desmond Bane jersey count?

Xavier: A Tony Allen Grindfather Christmas sweater!

Parker: I’ll probably rock my Grizzlies Christmas sweater, if it still fits me. Otherwise, I may need to buy a new one.

For more Grizzlies talk, subscribe to the Grizzly Bear Blues podcast network on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and IHeart. Follow Grizzly Bear Blues on Twitter and Instagram.