Grizzlies Schedule Release

Posted on September 1, 2014

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By Travis Nauert

griss2The NBA regular season schedule was released on August 13th, allowing Grizzlies fans to plan their nights and weekends accordingly. The season tips off in FedEx Forum against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, October 29th.

Next, comes a two game road trip to Indiana and Charlotte (the Buzz is back!) before returning home to face New Orleans in the first southwest division game of the year. The Grizzlies must improve on a 4-12 division record from last year as 4 of 5 Southwest teams made the playoffs, and very well could again this season. A strong division record could be the difference in earning home court advantage, landing a favorable matchup, or simply making the postseason.

Memphis then goes to the desert, taking on Phoenix ahead of their first real test in Oklahoma City. After an epic playoff series with four consecutive overtime games, the Grizzlies and Thunder will renew pleasantries on November 7th. Fans have placed a mental asterisk next to last year’s game 7; Zach Randolph was suspended for “punching” reserve center Steven Adams in game 6. Memphians contest that if Randolph had actually punched Steven Adams, then Steven Adams would no longer be living. A game in Milwaukee ends a three game road trip.

FedEx Forum hosts 6 of the next 7, bringing the Lakers, Kings, Pistons, Rockets, Celtics, and Clippers to Memphis. A game in Toronto breaks up the home stand.

10 wins in 14 games would be an ambitious yet conceivable way to start the season. That may or may not come to fruition, but the Grizzlies would do themselves a great service to start fast. The competition intensifies thereafter. 5 of the next 7 games feature playoff teams from last year, including trips to Portland and Houston, before three home games against San Antonio, Miami, and Dallas.

The final stretch of the season is brutal. March ends with Cleveland and Golden State at home, and a road game in San Antonio. April brings Oklahoma City, Washington, and New Orleans to FedEx Forum, then a three game road stretch against the Jazz, Clippers, and Warriors. Utah is a sneaky tough place to play, Clippers games usually turn into bar fights, and the Warriors nearly ended Memphis’ playoff hopes at the same time last year. The season finale takes place at home against the Pacers, who could be fighting for an eighth seed (even with a sub .500 record, because, you know, it’s the East).

The early season showdown with Oklahoma City (11/7) is Memphis’ lone appearance on ESPN. NBATV will broadcast eight games against the Lakers (11/26), Rockets (12/3), Heat (12/27), Mavericks (1/19), Clippers (2/23 & 4/11), Bulls (3/9), and Warriors(4/13). Of the 9 nationally televised games, only one is at home: the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day game. This year features the Grizzlies and Mavericks.

For reference, New Orleans (10), Denver (12) and Phoenix (17) all have more nationally televised games than Memphis, despite the fact that all three failed to reach the postseason last year. The Grizzlies have made the playoffs in each of the previous four seasons, and memorably reached the Western Conference Finals in 2013 as any fan will recall with a “and who the hell are you?” kind of attitude.

The depth of the Western Conference cannot be understated. The season will be another arduous campaign, likely hinging on the 82nd game to finalize playoff positioning. Moreover, the schedule is loaded with 20 back to backs.

After a year at the helm, Dave Joerger should be sharp with rotations, sound in delegating minutes, and confident in late game situations. Missing the playoffs would be considered a regression and a disappointment. If the core four of Conley, TA, Z-Bo, and Marc remain healthy, expect the Grindhouse to host playoff basketball once again in May.

Click here to see the Grizzlies entire 2014-15 regular season schedule.

Travis Nauert is a Memphis native who recently graduated from The University of Alabama. Read his coverage of the Memphis Grizzlies at http://www.bearsofbeale.wordpress.com

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Posted in: Grizzlies, Sports