The Grizzlies are coming off their best win in years, but some new material out from Forbes and CBSSports.com puts the team's current economic standing relative to the league in perspective.
In Forbes' annual ranking of NBA franchise values, the Grizzlies come in 29th, ahead of only the Milwaukee Bucks. Forbes projects the franchise's value as declining 13% in the past year, to an estimated value of $257 million.
Part of their conclusion:
The Grizzlies are hurting after winning only 28% of their games over the past three seasons. As a result the team's ticket prices are lowest in the league and attendance was second lowest in the NBA last year. Add the two together and the Grizzlies generated only $322,000 in gate receipts per game last season, one-sixth what the world champion Lakers pulled in per night.
Meanwhile, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger has gotten records of real, current numbers on actual paid attendance in the NBA so far this season. This information, relative to the Grizzlies, contains both positives and negatives.
Despite the epic feel of the Grizzlies overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, I'm actually going to keep this post-gamer fairly brief. But I'm going to follow-up tomorrow afternoon with a more well-rested consideration of what this game means in the big picture of this season and where the franchise is. But for now:
1. Best Game in Four Years: I crowned the Grizzlies win over the Dallas Mavericks Friday night the "win of the year," and that was true at the time. So what to say about this one? It was simply the best, most enjoyable, and most meaningful Grizzlies home game in at least four years. There have been good and exciting games in recent years: Rudy Gay game-winners against Orlando (last season) and San Antonio (two seasons ago) are both memorable. But those were games were early blips during mostly terrible seasons.
Tonight, the Grizzlies beat one of the league's best teams with one of the league's best players in a tightly contested game in the middle of an 8-4 stretch that seems to be establishing the team at a level of respectability and competitiveness Grizzlies fans haven't seen in years.
In this game, the Grizzlies took some punches — a thunderous beginning from Lebron James, a double-digit first-half deficit, significant frontcourt foul trouble — and stood their ground, coming out in the third quarter with a gritty, chippy demeanor to get back into the game.
The Grizzlies beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-109 in a dramatic, exhausting overtime game tonight at FedExForum. I didn't get home until after 11 p.m. An extensive post-game report is coming, but not until very late tonight or perhaps tomorrow morning.
Alright. I'm courtside at FedExForum as the Grizzlies are set to host the Cleveland Cavaliers and reigning MVP Lebron James.
An obvious key tonight will be how the Grizzlies defend Lebron, with Rudy Gay, Sam Young, and DeMarre Carroll all likely to get the assignment at one point or another. But I'll also be interested to watch the center match-up tonight with a slightly slumping Marc Gasol and somewhat emerging Hasheem Thabeet facing off with the Cavs' huge and veteran tandem of Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Illgauskas.
Look for a full game report later tonight or chime in here if you have questions or thoughts during the game.
A big win + a paucity of posts during the recent long road trip = a rare four-point play of a post-game report:
1. Win of the Year: Tonight's win over the Mavericks may not have been quite as surprising as the team's big win at Portland last week, but I think it's ultimately more impressive and more meaningful.
The Blazers followed their loss to the Grizzlies by getting blown out at Utah and then losing at home to Miami, so the Griz loss may have been part of a team slump. But tonight, the Grizzlies beat a near-elite (14-5 coming into the game, leading the Southwest Division) with an MVP-level star, and beat them soundly in front of a decent-sized home crowd.
Against the Blazers, the Grizzlies got a big lead and played tight, milking the clock too early, not getting great shots, and letting the Blazers cut into the lead. The Grizzlies held on, but the same thing happened two days later against the Clippers and the game fell apart.
There were signs of this tonight: The Grizzlies went up 17 with 7 minutes to play after a Rudy Gay three pointer, but coming out of a Dallas timeout the team seemed to settle into that familiar "playing not to lose" mold, milking clock without getting into the offense and getting good shots, and Dallas starting to creep up. A 9-4 Mavericks run over next two minutes cut the lead to 11 with 4:30 to play. But at this point, coach Lionel Hollins called a timeout and the Grizzlies came back with more aggression, going on a 8-0 run over the next 80 seconds — an O.J. Mayo 3, a Mike Conley 3, a Zach Randolph putback — to ice the game.
In many ways it was an ideal total game for the Grizzlies: They got O.J. Mayo involved early and he got into a shooting rhythm. Zach Randolph, after favoring his mid-range jumper too much on the road trip, got back to pounding the glass (9 offensive rebounds) and attacking defenders going to the basket instead of fading away. Though he had a few frustrating misses, Rudy Gay played a versatile game, scoring from long-range, mid-range, and at the rim and filling the stat sheet (18-6-3 with 3 "stocks" ["blocks + steals" — credit to Bill Simmons]). The bench contributed. The point guards were not terrible. The team defended the best opposing scorer smartly. They executed down the stretch. Great job all-around.
Alright, I'm courtside at FedExForum where the Grizzlies will take on the Dallas Mavericks in about 30 minutes.
After a 1-8 start, the Grizzlies have rebounded with a 6-4 stretch over their past 10 games. The downside is that only one of those victories has come against a team with a winning record (Portland). Tonight the Grizzlies will begin a stretch of six consecutive games against teams currently over .500, so we're about to find out something about just how much progress this team has made.
Of particular concern tonight: Defending Dirk Nowitzki. The former MVP is playing at that level again so far this season and presents huge match-up problems for the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph might be lost trying to check him, which should mean lineups in which either Rudy Gay or DeMarre Carroll get the call. But what about when Dallas goes small and plays Nowitzki at center?
I'll have a post-game report up later tonight, but drop in here with questions, comments, or unhinged rants if you have any.
Let's do this.