The Memphis Grizzlies are entering the All-Star Break with a 29-23 record and are only 1.5 games back of the Golden State Warriors for the 8th spot in the Western Conference. They also are going into the break on a nice little 2 game winning streak, winning games over the Washington Wizards (92-89) and Orlando Magic (86-81). While neither of those wins appear to be all that impressive, both of those wins have been accomplished doing what the Grizzlies do best, which is keeping teams under 90 points and in the 80s.
As a matter of fact, games scored in the 80s is where the Grizzlies thrive. In games where their opponents score under 90 points, the Grizzlies are 16-1. That’s right, 16-1! When they play that grind it out basketball with low scores, they are virtually unbeatable. The win over the Wizards was especially impressive since Bradley Beal scored a career high 37 points in that game, and the Wizards still couldn’t crack 90 points. What is perhaps most impressive about their 16-1 record when they keep teams in the 80s is the fact that they’ve kept teams in the 80s or 70s 17 times this season! That’s nearly one-third of the time! In an era where hand-checking is a thing of the past and teams like the Thunder, Warriors, and Clippers thrive on high-octane offense, keeping your opponents under 90 points one-third of the time is ridiculously impressive. Just to give you some perspective, the Pacers, who are known to be the best defensive team in the NBA , have held their opponents under 90 points 25 times and have only lost once in those games. The Grizzlies aren’t far behind the Pacers in terms of defending teams and keeping teams in low scoring battles. Especially since the Grizzlies play in a much tougher conference.
As is shown by the numbers, the Grizzlies are highly successful when they get teams to play their style of basketball or at least get teams into low scoring battles. The basketball gods know the Grizzlies have difficulty scoring the basketball, which is why every game in the 80s is a blessing for the Grizzlies. If the Grizzlies want to have a successful post-All-Star Break season, they have to continue to find ways to keep teams under 90 points and get their opponents into low-scoring battles like they did in their past 2 games. If they can do that, they’ll be just fine in terms of making the playoffs. If they struggle to accomplish this goal, expect more losses to come. However, with Mike Conley and Tony Allen expected to return shortly after the All-Star Break, I expect to see more games in the 80s, which means more wins.