If Marc Gasol does not return in time, the Memphis Grizzlies could go from being one of the scariest matchups in the Western Conference to possibly seeing their postseason cut short. Gasol is out indefinitely with an abdominal tear, providing Grizzlies fans and management with a legitimate reason for concern.
This season Memphis has been a great team to watch if you enjoy fundamentally solid basketball. They rank second in the NBA in opposing points per game, allowing their opposition under 90 points per contest.
A huge part of the Grizzlies’ success on the defensive end of the court has been thanks to the solid play of Gasol. He is averaging 14.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, but he has truly anchored one of the best defenses in the league.
Almost every single possession, Gasol makes the right decisions and orchestrates the defense in a variety of ways. He is very vocal, helps out his teammates when they get beat and is an extremely intimidating body in the paint.
Monday night’s loss to the Washington Wizards proved just how essential Gasol is to Memphis’ success. The Wizards were without four key players, yet John Wall managed to drop a career-high 47 points on one of the best defenses in the league. Without Gasol in the middle, Wall was free to attack the paint and draw fouls, getting to the line 24 times.
If Gasol is not back in time, Memphis could very well go into the first round of the playoffs without homecourt advantage. Beating either the Los Angeles Clippers or the Denver Nuggets on the road will not be the easiest of tasks, regardless of whether the 7-1 Spaniard is playing.
Vytis is an NBA columnist for RantSports. You can follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis