The Memphis Grizzlies finished off a 2-0 road trip last night winning at Orlando 106-96. On Wednesday, the Grizzlies defeated Brooklyn and former coach Lionel Hollins. Memphis now gets 5 consecutive games at FedExForum – a great opportunity to stockpile some more wins heading to the halfway point of the season. The Grizzlies are currently 28-11 and within 4 games of the #1 seed, but also within 4 games of the #7 seed. The West is a grind – but Memphis is well positioned.
Understanding the Grizzlies from the point of view of their opponents is a good way to comprehend exactly why the Grizzlies are such a tough out right now, especially when fully healthy – and the answer isn’t groundbreaking. According to Nets and Magic players and coaches – the Grizzlies are NBA Championship contenders at the moment for 3 primary reasons: (1) Chemistry, (2) Defense, and (3) Rebounding. Here’s a quick summary of what the Grizzlies’ opponents had to say after facing them this week.
Quotes courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel and New York Post.
1. Experience and Chemistry:
Hollins on the fact that the Grizzlies have grown up together:
“Those guys were puppies, and now they’re men.”
“The nucleus has been there for a long time with Zach, Marc, Mike and Tony. Those guys have been there from the get and they are a big part of winning and as long as they are together they are going to have a winning [group].”
Orlando Magic Coach Jacque Vaughn on the Grizzlies experience:
“But you give those guys credit. They’ve been doing it together for a long time.”
2. Defense and Rebounding:
Hollins on what makes the Grizzlies so good:
“That’s what they do, they’ve got two big guys. … Zach had 20 points, Marc had 18 and most of them were in the paint for both of them. That’s their game. They’re a very good defensive team, they’re a very good rebounding team, and that’s why they’re one of the best teams in the league.”
Victor Oladipo’s take on the Grizzlies:
“It seemed like every option we had, they kind of took it away. We just had to play off instincts, really, and just go out there and figure out a way to score. But they’re a great defensive team, a great overall team. They’ve got great players over there, great defensive players over there.
Adding Jeff Green is going to help the team offensively – as will getting Mike Conley back healthy and everyone clicking together. But the key to this team has been and continues to be defense, rebounding and chemistry.