Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies are looking like the team that no one in the NBA‘s Western Conference will be thrilled to play in the first round of the playoffs. What a turn of events from earlier in the season.
Following a December 17th loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Grizzlies were just 10-15. Still, with a ton of games left in the season and plenty of time to get it together, rookie head coach David Joerger got his team to save their season just in time.
Since that point the Grizzlies have gone 27-11. They are now one game ahead of the Phoenix Suns for the eighth spot in the playoffs. They finally have the inside track.
This is starting to resemble the team that went to the Western Conference finals last season. They are beating opponents both inside and out, defensively and offensively.
The Portland Trail Blazers were the next victim in line Tuesday night in the Grizzlies re-emergence. The Grizzlies won, 109-99, despite 32 points from Damian Lillard and 19 points and 10 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge. Memphis, as it has all season long when everybody has been healthy, received solid efforts from its three best players Zach Randolph, Gasol and Mike Conley.
When their star players are on the court together, Memphis is very tough to beat.
It is no guarantee that Grizzlies will make the playoffs. Eric Bledsoe is set to return for the Suns. He should give the team a major boost.
Still, if Memphis is healthy and playing at their best, you have to like their chances. With their style of play and their experience, none of the top teams in the West will want to face them in the first round.