Just a season ago the Memphis Grizzlies were in the Western Conference Championship game, but at 15-19 they were now an after thought in the NBA.
The Grizzlies just didn’t seem the same under new head coach David Joerger. With the Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, and Phoenix Suns all seeded higher, was it time for the Grizzlies to blow it all up and focus on the future?
Well to the dismay of the rest of the West, the Grizzlies have roared back. Starting with the acquisitions of Courtney Lee via trade and James Johnson from free agency the Grizzlies finally got some help on the wings that they were sorely lacking. And with the return of the reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies are now the team everyone expected them to be coming into the season.
The Grizzlies have won 11 of their last 13 games entering Wednesday. During the thirteen game stretch the Grizzlies have allowed just 88.7 points per game and with Gasol in the lineup have allowed 86.6 (11 games). It was just about time the defense would return to its peak.
As much as the defense was expected to return with Gasol; we couldn’t expect the offense to turn around right?
Lee and Johnson have done wonders for the Grizzlies. Lee has filled into the starting spot for the injured Tony Allen and has averaged 13.5 points in 14 games (12 starts) for the Grizz. More important than his scoring, Lee’s 3-point shooting (40.0%) has been able to spread the court for the Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, and Gasol.
Johnson (24 games) has had an impact off the bench; he’s put up 7.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and a team leading 1.6 blocks a game.
With Allen expected back soon and the possibility of Tayshaun Prince and Mike Miller finding their grooves, it will be no surprise to see this team getting even better.
At 26-21 and a game out of the playoffs, the 7th and 8th seeds in the West aren’t the only ones who need to worry about these Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies are the team you don’t want to see in the first round.
As they say, “better late than never.”
The Grizzlies are roaring back.