NBA Playoffs: Why the Grizzlies Can Make a Late-Round Push

Steven MarinoContributor IIIApril 11, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies dunks against Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 2, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Memphis Grizzlies currently hold the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Grizzlies have a 33-23 record at the moment, as well as the sixth-best points allowed—93.4 per game. They also have six players who currently average double digits in points, including Rudy Gay, who leads the team with 18.4 points.

Marc Gasol is having another stellar year, averaging 15.1 points and leading the team in rebounds—9.5 per game. Mike Conley is another team leader, with 6.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game.

While the Grizzlies have multiple players who can score, their ability to compete with top-caliber teams stands out the most.

The Grizzlies might be the NBA's hottest team right now, winning eight of their last 10 games.  Three of those eight victories came against the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Miami Heat, all on the road. Other victories in the past 10 games came against the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers.  

Four out of the last eight victories came against teams that have a better record and currently hold a higher seed in the playoff race than the Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies have beaten three of the top four teams in the West in the past ten games while averaging 96.4 points per game.

Last season, the Grizzlies shocked the basketball world when they eliminated the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs and went toe-to-toe with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the following round.

This season, I expect the same productivity from the Grizzlies, who have proven they can hang with the best.  With the Grizzlies playing their best basketball late in the season, I expect them to be the Western Conference's sleeper team and make a late run in this year's NBA playoffs.