The schedule gods never seem to smile on the Grizzlies, but at least it keeps things interesting. Here are a few key games that you should keep an eye on in the course of the 2013-14 season.
All times Central.
Wed, Oct 30 @ San Antonio Spurs
The season opener. A game the Grizzlies have never won. Against a team that embarrassed them in the Conference Finals. With a new head coach.
Unbelievably, these storylines weren’t enough to slate this game for national coverage… perhaps that’s for the best. If the Grizzlies can win this, it’ll be huge. If they can’t, it will be a rough start to Joerger’s career and a season that many hope (not unreasonably) will end in the Finals. Bring it on.
Mon, Nov 18 @ Los Angeles Clippers
This is game three of a four-game road swing early in the season and it comes on the second night of a back-to-back. Yikes. I actually think this is a good thing, though — if our new squad hasn’t gelled yet with the new rotations and a new(ish) head coach, it will give us a good chance to see how our raw talent matches up against the Clippers newly acquired offensive pieces. Even if we don’t win it, this game will be a good benchmark for how we stack up in the top of the Western Conference talent-wise, if not preparedness-wise.
Wed, Dec 11 vs Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder return to Memphis in the regular season for the first time since Marc Gasol’s epic “s–t, it went in!” buzzer beater last year. They’ll also be looking for revenge for the gentleman’s sweep we handed them in the Conference Semi’s, and they’ll be bringing a healthy Russell Westbrook with them, presumably. The one thing they don’t have is a third three-point threat or reliable sixth man, and Joerger is smart enough to know that Tony Allen very much can guard Kevin Durant. I think by this point we’ll see that the Grizzlies are back on par with the Thunder — not because they’ve slipped, but because we’ve gotten better.
Mon, Dec 30 vs Chicago Bulls
It’s been a blue moon (literally) since Derrick Rose played in Memphis. That’s enough to make tickets tough to get.
Fri, Jan 24 @ Houston Rockets / Sat, Jan 25 vs Houston Rockets
7:00 p.m. (both)
Back-to-back nights against the same team, one there, one here. A split is okay; two-for-two is great, but don’t expect any media attention pointed anywhere but Dwight Howard if it happens. This could be a preview of a playoff series — Memphis and Houston finished close in the tables last year, and Houston is poised to do better this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Memphis (4) vs Houston (5) first-round matchup in 2014.
Sat, Feb 22 @ Charlotte Bobcats
I know it’s Charlotte, but the Grizzlies can’t be aware of that. This one is surrounded by games against New York, the Clippers, the Lakers, and OKC. It’s on the back end of a back-to-back, and the Grizzlies don’t always run as smoothly in Charlotte as they should. If they’re not careful, they’ll face a disheartening loss leading into the crucial month of March.
Mon, March 31 @ Denver Nuggets
Denver isn’t the story here, so much as the month of March, which is once again brutal for the Grizzlies. 17 games (the busiest month of the year), five back-to-backs, and this game is the fourth of a five-game road swing, on the second night of a back-to-back. I got tired just typing that. This is a trap game (so are the Portland and Minnesota games surrounding it). A beatable team is less beatable when you’ve been run ragged by the schedule, and these kind of losses really pile up at the wrong time of year when you’re jockeying for playoff seeding.
Wed, Apr 9 vs Miami Heat
7:00 p.m. ESPN
Memphis / Miami games in the regular season have been really interesting of late. In the last three years, the Grizz are 3-2 against the best team in the world, including two wire-to-wire victories (one in Miami). One of the losses came in the midst of Miami’s epic win streak last season, and it was one of their closest shaves. This one’s a national broadcast and it comes just a couple of weeks before the start of the playoffs.
You can view the full schedule here.