Memphis Grizzlies: 4 Reasons Soft Finish Benefits Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies played their last truly difficult game on Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs. The Grizzlies mounted a late 20-10 run to pull within four, but the Spurs ended up winning 107-97.
Now, the Grizzlies are looking at an easy finish to the season. They’ll play seven of their last eight remaining games against sub-.500 teams, with the only games against a winning team coming against the Utah Jazz and Orlando Magic. Five of these last eight games will be in the friendly confines of the FedEx Forum.
Follow along to read about how the Grizzlies will benefit.
Rest for Starters
Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol have carried high minute loads this season. Gasol plays 37.5 minutes per game, Gay plays 37.6 minutes per game and Conley plays 35.5 minutes per game. All three of them are forced to play a great deal since none of them has a strong starter behind him.
Now, they’ll be able to rest more. The Grizzlies won’t have to work as hard to seal up the remaining games since they’ll be playing light competition. Gasol could sit more and let Dante Cunningham and Hamed Haddadi get minutes to prepare for the playoffs. Haddadi won’t play much in the playoffs, but he’ll still have to audition for any possible suitors in free agency.
Quincy Pondexter would take Gay’s minutes when Gay rests.
Conley’s minutes could be filled by Gilbert Arenas and rookie Josh Selby. Arenas could play a significant backup role in the playoffs. Selby, who has played sparsely this season, could use more experience at the NBA level. He recently came back after his third stint of the season in the NBDL.
This is the right time for Selby to gain experience. The competition isn’t difficult. Selby can play in low-pressure situations. He’ll be able to get comfortable with the point guard position at the NBA level.
Get Easy Wins to Boost Playoff Position
The Grizzlies could use this easy home stretch to pad their record. With six of their eight remaining games against sub-.500 teams and the other ones against a middling Jazz team and a Magic team that seems listless at this point, the Grizzlies just might run the table.
The game against the Bobcats is a gimme. While the Hornets always fight hard, the two games against them should be penciled in as wins. With the Minnesota Timberwolves tanking without Ricky Rubio, Tuesday’s road game against them won’t be a problem.
Winning out would give the Grizzlies a 42-24 record. Now, the Grizzlies are currently 1.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers and 2.5 games behind the Lakers. Memphis would almost be assured the No. 4 spot, if not the No. 3 spot.
Get Gilbert Arenas Involved
Gilbert Arenas has slowly acclimated himself to the Grizzlies rotation since being signed a few weeks ago. He’s played 11 games and is averaging about 15 minutes per game.
Lionel Hollins could give Arenas more action down the stretch in order to get him ready for the playoffs. Arenas could get more playing time to get ready for frequent playoff action, where he’d be needed to spell Mike Conley and provide three-point shooting.
Arenas could be looking at more minutes in these final eight games as Conley will likely rest more. Arenas will likely fill in at least some of those minutes Conley will sit out. He’s already spent some time backing Conley up.
Seeing Arenas play 20 minutes in at least four of these remaining eight games would be nice. He could flex his three-point shooting stroke against teams like the Jazz and Bobcats, which won’t defend him too much on the perimeter. Further, Arenas would be able to get into the rhythm of the game, readying for important minutes off the bench in the playoffs.
Get Zach Randolph Ready
One player who certainly needs to be stretched out for the playoffs is Zach Randolph. Randolph has played 17 games since coming back from injury. He’s played the last 12 off the bench. That probably won’t change, but he’ll likely get more minutes to get ready for the playoffs.
He’ll use those extra minutes to increase his conditioning for the playoffs, as he’s just about back in full form.
Also, Randolph will be looking to flex his rebounding might against lesser competition to practice that drill for tougher opponents like the Clippers, a probable first-round opponent.
He may try to increase his offensive action. He’s averaging only 12.3 points per game now, and has only scored more than 15 points in a couple of games since returning to the floor.
Randolph will be a key player for the Grizzlies in the playoffs, and they’ll certainly want him to be stretched out for a postseason run.
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