Getting in the Groove

Things have changed for this Grizzlies squad, and in this case, change is so good. Once again, we’re the team you don’t want to play. The solid additions of Courtney Lee and James Johnson paired with Marc Gasol’s glorious return re-energized the team and the fan base. Oh, and Mike Conley is playing like an All-Star PG right now.

All credit goes to the faux hawk. images

We’re a half game out of the eighth spot behind the Mavericks. So if things go our way, we could be looking at a serious playoff run. 

Here’s what the Western Conference looks like:

1. OKC Thunder

2. San Antonio Spurs

3. LA Clippers

4. Portland Trailblazers

5. Golden State Warriors

6. Houston Rockets

7. Phoenix Suns

8. Memphis Grizzlies

Round 1: Grizz vs. Thunder

All the hype around KD’s insanity in January can’t cover up our impressive track record against the Thunder. We historically play well against them, so this is an ideal matchup.

Round 2: Grizz vs. Trailblazers or Warriors

We have a decent chance with both of these teams. They’ve got the high-octane offenses that we can overwhelm with our top-notch defense.

The one team the Grizz need to avoid is the Spurs, but that’s a given. The rest of the West isn’t too intimidating right now. So Grizz Nation, it looks like  we’ve got a pretty solid shot at a little 2011 déjà vu. This could get good.

The butt-slap heard ’round the world

Around 6:45 last night, a friend texted me.

“Heard Marc Gasol might be back tonight. Joerger says it’s a game time decision”

I knew Marc took part in his first practice since the MCL sprain on November 22, 2013 just one day earlier. He affirmed that he was feeling really good, giving Grizz fans some good feelings too. I was thinking Friday back in the FedEx Forum for the grand return, if that soon. Naturally, with my interest piqued, I jumped on Twitter like any sports-obsessed college student should.

First, I saw this:

Then I clicked refresh, and:

AND WELCOME TO MEMPHIS, KD.

(thesource.com)

Moments later, I got a Team Stream update from my Bleacher Report app (everyone should have this) reconfirming the news. Then, in came a gleeful text from my blogging colleague, Travis. My Grizz goosebumps had been absent for a while, but they were indubitably back for good.

In the span of 15 minutes, this already anticipated Thunder game at the Forum was elevated to new heights. And boy did it deliver.

It was gritty, and it was grindy. Courtney Lee shined with a Grizz-career high 24 points and 5 assists shooting 60% from field goal range and 67% from three-point. Marc ended up playing just 24 minutes earning 12 points and 4 rebounds. Solid, considering a careful reincorporation was expected for the big guy. It was such a sweet victory over the Thunder with a final score of 90-87.

But lets get to that butt slap shall we?

(fansided.com)

(fansided.com)

Its simple, but it stands for something greater. Gasol knows hes vital to this Grizz team’s success, and that’s pretty exciting.

Marc is back, back again. Marc is back, tell a friend.

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

-Casey Black

Bayless Traded as Grizz Down Detroit, Head Home

Bayless Joins Long List of Fallen Backup Grizz Guards

A weekend dominated by the NFL Wildcard Round has been breached with Grizz relevant headlines. Jerryd Bayless has been traded to Boston in exchange for Courtney Lee. The move could trigger subsequent deals as the Grizzlies search for answers in the crowded Western Conference. The NBA Trade Deadline looms a month and a half away (Thursday, February 22nd @ 2PM Central time to be exact), and the Grizz have underperformed compared to fans’ lofty expectations.

Lee is in his 6th year out of Western Kentucky. He was drafted 22nd overall in 2008 by Orlando and played for the Magic, Nets, and Rockets prior to joining the Celtics last season.

courtney-lee-dribbling-881x500

Following the acquisition of James Johnson, the front office continues to be proactive in improving the team’s perimeter play. This season, Lee has converted .422 on 23 of 52 attempts from 3 point range, while Bayless has struggled shooting .288 on 23 of 80…giving Bayless a minuscule 28 bonus attempts…and misses. For their careers, Lee still outshoots Bayless, although by a smaller margin of .387 to .343. Physically, Lee is listed at 6’5″, two inches taller than Bayless at 6’3″. Memphis remains last in the NBA in 3 pointers made and attempted per game, at 4.3 and 14 respectively, and are tied with Milwaukee for 21st in 3P% at .343.

Chris Vernon and Chris Herrington presented other noteworthy points:

Also of interest, the Grizzlies waived recently acquired Seth Curry, younger brother of Warriors PG Steph Curry. Seth made his Grizz debut late in the 4th quarter against Detroit today. However, ESPN’s Marc Stein believes Memphis will attempt to resign Curry the younger, if he clears Waivers, to a second 10-day contract. After a second 10-day contract, a decision will be made to sign him for the rest of the season or not.

Grizz down Detroit, win 2nd half 61-28

A Sunday matinée victory over Detroit puts Memphis at 15-18 on the year, standing 4 games behind the timeless Dirk Nowitzki and his 8th place Mavericks. The Grizzlies are in an exclusive club with Charlotte (which is never good, except Charlotte can actually lay claim to a playoff spot at the moment) as the only two teams in the league that have yet to defeat a divisional opponent. Memphis is 0-8 vs Southwest teams, while Charlotte is 0-5 against the Southeast.

The bullies on the block did the dirty work, despite Marc Gasol’s continued absence. Jon Leuer was the catalyst off the bench, leading all scorers with 23 points and collecting 8 rebounds split evenly between the offensive and defensive ends. ZBo was ZBo, going for 16 points, 16 rebounds, plus 5 assists. Ed Davis was an efficient 7-11 from the field, scoring 17 points to go with 11 rebounds. All of this was done against a long, athletic Detroit front court that consists of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith.

James Johnson continues to turn heads and did so again with this dish to Ed Davis:

The last game for one Grizz…

(Photo by D. Williams/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by D. Williams/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

And the first for another…but maybe his last, but also maybe not.

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Back to the Grindhouse

The Grizz return to Memphis and FedEx Forum for a 4 game stretch, beginning Tuesday night against San Antonio.  The stand concludes a week from Tuesday against Oklahoma City.  This is another opportunity to improve an alarming 7-11 home record after going 32-9 inside the Forum last year.

(photo from basketball.ballparks.com)

(photo from basketball.ballparks.com)

Tipoff in Memphis:

Tuesday, January 7

7:00 PM Central

 

 

 

-Travis Nauert