Going into their Friday, April 6, game at Miami, the Grizzlies were 30-23 with 13 games left in this lockout-shortened season. We’ve seen them win at Oklahoma City, inspiring that “Believe Memphis” sentiment from last season. And we’ve seen them lose at home to Toronto, making us wonder if they’re still capable of finishing ninth or worse in a Western Conference playoff picture with room for only eight teams.
So now is a good time to play a little True or False with the “Grit & Grind” Grizzlies.
• This team has more upside than last year’s team that nearly reached the conference finals. True. They are not as dependent on playing through the paint via Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, so they can play a more free-flowing game if need be and change offenses as the game dictates. O.J. Mayo, who lately has hurt teams with his outside shooting, is a key to keeping teams honest and not sagging into the paint.
• This team has more downside than last year’s team. True. Randolph was a legit go-to-guy in the playoffs. He’s not at that level yet and may not get there this year after the knee injury, and so on nights when the outside shooting is cold the Grizzlies can struggle mightily to score against good defensive teams.
• With Gilbert Arenas on the team and Mayo playing well, the backup point guard crisis is over. False. Starter Mike Conley could easily tweak that ankle again. The sample size is too small to conclude Arenas will contribute the rest of the way and Jeremy Pargo is wildly inconsistent. This could still bite the Grizz.
• Tony Allen should have his own reality show. True. Until then, follow him on Twitter @aa000G9.
• Lionel Hollins should win NBA Coach of the Year. True. If the Grizz make the playoffs, he should be the choice. But he probably won’t be.
• Rudy Gay is poised for a breakout postseason. False. Remember he missed the fun last year with his shoulder injury so this will be new pressure. I think he’ll have a shining moment or two, but his track record also suggests a couple of 4-point games with a lot of missed shots and sort of floating around the court.
• The Grizz have to reach the conference finals for this season to be a success. False. Given the injuries, they’re playing with house money as long as they get in.
Don Wade is a native of Kansas City and a former feature writer for The Kansas City Star and sports reporter for The Commercial Appeal. His column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News.