Trouble on Beale

Posted on January 23, 2014


By Johnny Dunavant


With the midway point of the season lurking, and the Grizzlies continuing to hover around the .500 mark, let’s examine why Memphis is currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

Injuries have clearly played a crucial role in the squad’s sluggish start, but let’s begin with 0-10. That’s the Grizzlies’ current record against its Southwest Division opponents in the Western Conference. What’s even more troubling is that three of these division losses have come at the hands of the dreadful New Orleans Pelicans, who most recently erased an eight game losing streak by knocking off the Grizzlies in the FedEx Forum on MLK Day. Speaking of the forum, the home court advantage has been anything but stellar up to this point, as Memphis has already amassed 13 losses on 191 Beale Street, four more than they suffered during the entire 2012-2013 season.

Statistically speaking, despite the additions of perimeter threats Mike Miller and Courtney Lee, the Grizzlies still rank dead last in the NBA in both three pointers attempted and three pointers made. Recent history suggests that Memphis’s modest offensive percentages are not true indicators of success as a result of the team’s slow pace, or the number of possessions the team uses per game. However, on the defensive side of the ball, this season’s team has struggled to match the efficiency of last year’s group, which ranked second in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions. Obviously the absence of the reigning league defensive MVP in Marc Gasol, accompanied with the recent injury to defensive specialist Tony Allen, has been detrimental to Memphis’ ability to overwhelm opponents in an era where most teams have four or five legitimate offensive threats. However, in order to remain relevant in the playoff picture, the Grizzlies must find a way to limit opponents scoring and return to their notorious gritty team defense.

As Tony Allen reenters the lineup, and Marc Gasol shakes off the rust from his 23 game hiatus resulting from a left knee injury, the Grizzlies must take advantage of scheduling for the next two months. After beginning the season with what analysts rendered the toughest schedule in the league, Memphis will now have the opportunity to finally utilize all of its weapons in route to reaching a playoff spot in the extremely competitive West.

Johnny Dunavant is a senior Business and Commerce major at Rhodes College.

Posted in: Grizzlies, Sports