City Sports Report

Beware Of The Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are the most overlooked team out there, but they will make believers soon enough (photo courtesy of www.thenational.ae)

Taking a look over the NBA landscape, there are a few teams that come to mind as title contenders. The Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks and the Chicago Bulls (pre- Derrick Rose injury) were mentioned, but it seems like one team is always overlooked in this equation. The Memphis Grizzlies have the third best record in the NBA with 42 wins against 17 loses. But many forget about that record due to the great start of the Warriors or the exciting things that the Houston Rockets are doing. Well, one thing is for sure: everyone better start paying attention to this team and what they are capable of doing. The Western Conference knows about them and how tough they are, but the rest of the country is yet to catch on.

Memphis has always prided itself on gritty play. The FedEx Forum aka the Grindhouse has been a house of horrors for many a team in the NBA. For years, they have been excellent on the defensive end and this year is not any different. The Grizzlies are leading the NBA, only giving up 95.7 points per game. They have that rare combination of a great perimeter defender in guard Tony Allen and a great post defender and former Defensive Player of the Year in Marc Gasol. The great thing about Tony Allen is he is a pest defensively. He can guard any team’s best perimeter player no matter what the size. Allen uses positioning and quickness against bigger players like Kevin Durant when he faces Oklahoma City and he uses his length when guarding smaller guys like Steph Curry and Chris Paul. Having that type of versatility on the perimeter defensively makes it that much easier for the rest of the team to defend. But what makes the Grizzlies even better is the communication and positioning of Marc Gasol. The big Spaniard is not the most athletic guy on the court, but he reads the offense extremely well. Because of his mental edge defensively, he is always putting defenders in the right position or in the right position himself to make a stop for his team. And it is because of these two exceptional defenders that Memphis can give teams like Golden State and Cleveland fits.

But the Grizzlies are not only good on the defensive end, but they are efficient offensively. With the combination of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on the offensive end, they can bludgeon folks in the paint and have been doing so for years. But as they have continued to wear teams out in the paint, their perimeter game has continued to evolve. The main piece that has helped them there is point guard Mike Conley, Jr. He has to be the most underrated point guard in the point guard-loaded Western Conference. While everyone is mentioning names like Chris Paul of the Clippers, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Damian Lilliard of the Portland Trailblazers, Conley has quietly been averaging 17 points and 5 assists per game. And even more than that, he is making the key plays that matter most for this team down the stretch. With his 17 points and Gasol’s 18.2 points per game, they make one of the best inside-out combinations in the NBA, yet no one really talks about how well they play together. Another good addition to this team has been forward Jeff Green. The Grizzlies needed an athletic wing player that could provide them some explosion on the offensive end as well as defend. Since Green has been a part of the Grizzlies, he has averaged 12 points per game and has been a perfect fit as that athletic wing the Grizzlies needed. And he also provides them another threat on a team that is looking to continue to grow its offense.

The combination of better offense along with their good defense makes the Grizzlies a team that many do not want to face in the playoffs and ultimately one of the biggest threats to the Golden State Warriors. They can bang inside with big men like Gasol and Randolph. But they have the added dimension of better perimeter play and selective transition basketball as well with Green, Conley Jr., guard Courtney Lee and even Tony Allen at times (even though he can be scary for the Grizzlies when finishing at the rim at times). The only issue the Grizzlies may have is bench scoring. The previously mentioned Allen is more of a defensive force off the bench than one that has to be feared offensively. Vince Carter, once he returns back from injury, can provide some scoring punch off the bench for the Grizzlies. Other than that, the Grizzlies just have a bunch of guys that fill minutes but give inconsistent performances. But one thing Memphis head coach Dave Joerger has been doing well is mixing and matching his starters with bench players. He makes sure to have a certain amount of scoring options on the floor at one time, making for a good mixture of offensive efficiency.

The Grizzlies will more than likely continued to be overlooked. In fact, many probably did not know they had a record this good this deep in the season before reading this article. But the good thing about this team is they play postseason basketball at all times with their style. Others will have to adjust for them more than they will have to adjust for others. That is a huge advantage going forward for them. But the Grizzlies would rather remain a team no one talks about. Moving in silence rather than being given all the attention. But eventually, the bright lights could shine on the Grizzlies as they make a playoff run towards a championship.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

One Comment

  1. ASR

    March 5, 2015 at 1:32 am

    The Grizzlies have one of the best frontcourts in the NBA not to mention their backcourt. Z Bo and Gasol eat up space in the paint making it very hard for the opposing team to run plays. So if a team is shooting poorly it’s difficult to offensive rebound, therefore Memphis controls the clock. They along with OKC will be very tough in the West.

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