Man, do I wish it could Wednesday again. Back then, the Grizzlies were third in the West, and the hottest team in the league not named the Miami Heat. The also just pulled off an immensely satisfying win against the Clippers, both improving their playoff standing, and getting a bit of revenge for last year’s devastating playoff defeat.
And in two days, all that fun stuff is gone. The Grizzlies lost two road games in two days, falling the Nuggets on Friday, and the Jazz on Saturday. Both games were hotly contested and it’s not as though the Grizzlies embarrassed themselves in either game, but after a solid month of nothing but excitement in Grizzlies land (even the Heat loss had the silver lining of being very close), it feels like the wind has been taken out of our sails.
So, let’s talk ourselves off the ledge for a few minutes, shall we? First off, it’s not like the Grizz are suddenly terrible. They lost one road game to a very talented team, and another to a team fighting like a dog for a playoff spot. The Grizzlies are likely a better team than the Jazz, but the Jazz needed that game a lot more. The fact they got a little help from the refs didn’t hurt either.
And yes, the Grizzlies have fallen to fourth, but it’s not like they’re doomed to that position eternally. The Grizzlies recent run has put them back in the battle for a top-3 seed, and I don’t expect them to fall out of that fight anytime soon, especially since the Grizzlies have looked excellent as of late, while the Clippers feel far removed from the team that won 17 games in a row back in December. In spite of recent developments, the three seed is firmly in play.
Should the Grizzlies be worried about the Nuggets in the first round? To be honest, it is a current; the Nuggets match up very well against the Grizzlies, and even when the tight Grizzlies defense throws the Nuggets offense out of whack, they usually overcome it one way or another.
At the same time, the Grizzlies may be a be a bit better equipped for the postseason than the Nuggets. Remember,t he game slows down considerably in the postseason, and no one plays a slower, uglier game than the Grizzlies. Games will likely be played at a speed better suited to Memphis’s grit-and-grind style of player than to the more frantic pace of the Nuggets.
The biggest knock against both teams is that they lack the superstar type player who can be counted on to come through at the end of games. That may be somewhat true for the Grizzlies, but they seem a bit better off in this area than the Nuggets. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are both among the best at their position, and either one would seem more reliable at the end of the game than any Nuggets player. Ty Lawson and Danillo Gallinari have their moments, but neither would totally feel trustworthy in a situation like that. Marc and Z-Bo both seem like they’d be able to get the job done one way or another.
So yeah, losing two in a row is a bummer, but it’s not the end of the world. The Grizzlies are still a scary team, despite their struggled against the Nuggets, they would still have a solid shots in a playoff series against then. Let’s just put these two rough games behind us, and hope the Grizz can return to form when they had back to the Grindhouse this week.