It was almost too good to be true. After Wednesday’s win at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Memphis Grizzlies looked like they had hit their peak and were going to be a factor down the stretch of the NBA’s regular season.
Then the Grizzlies played back-to-back games at two of the league’s toughest venues to win at as a road team. Memphis played hard and took each game down to the wire, but ultimately couldn’t get over the hump.
You could make the argument that Denver and Utah are the toughest road venues in the league today. Chicago’s United Center is tough, as is Madison Square Garden and of course FedEx Forum in Memphis is not picnic either, but even when the Nuggets and Jazz aren’t good, it’s a tough out.
When you also factor in that the Denver and Utah games happened to be part of the Grizzlies’ four-games-in-five-nights stretch, it’s amazing that they had enough to even compete each night.
Basically, I’m not going to dive off a ledge after two tough losses to two playoff-caliber teams near the tail end of a rigorous stretch and on the road to boot.
That said, the tough stretch continues tonight as the Grizzlies return home to host the Minnesota Timberwolves for their fifth game in seven nights. Wednesday will make six games in nine nights, so the Grizzlies’ depth will be tested by the end of this week.
Minnesota is suffering through a lost season. After a decent year in 2011-2012, Minny quite simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Ricky Rubio returned from an ACL injury last March and has found his legs of late, but between him missing the first two months of the season and Kevin Love missing at least two big stretches so far, the Wolves will be in the lottery again this year.
Minnesota is suffering from a lot of things, but mostly some bad luck. They got the second pick in the draft in 2011 and took Derrick Williams, a rookie that I was really excited about. The only problem is that Williams played the same position as Love, their franchise player, so Williams was slated to play 20-25 minutes a night at the very most. You can’t blame Minnesota because he was the best player at that pick by far, but it also has to be frustrating for the team and their fans.