Remember when we were talking about the Grizzlies just staying in the playoff race? Staying around .500 and within a couple of games of that precious #8 seed and then try to make a run when Zach Randolph comes back? Well …
A month ago today, the Grizzlies were a losing team, standing at 12-13. Since then, they've won 11 of 13 games and, after a commanding road win against the Warriors last night, currently five in a row. And with the Lakers and Clippers both losing last night, the Grizzlies wake up this morning to find themselves in sole possession of third place in the Western Conference. The team's playoff odds, per John Hollinger, are now up to nearly 95 percent.
And it wasn't just the Los Angeles teams falling last night. There were also down-ballot losses from West playoff contenders in Houston and Denver.
If the playoffs started today, the Grizzlies would host the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. (And we would also have a Lakers-Clippers first-round match-up and a really fun Thunder-Wolves pairing. Can we please start the playoffs today?)
Coming off a three-day layoff, the Grizzlies were more rested than rusty, jumping all over the Warriors to start, going up 21-4 and assisting on all 13 first-quarter field goal. The Warriors roared back behind Steph Curry and a phalanx of three-point shooters (at one point, the Warriors were 5-7 from long-range with buckets from five different players) to take the lead and it seemed like we were going to have another crazy Grizzlies-Warriors game.
Instead, the Grizzlies came out in the third quarter and firmly established their superiority, reeling off 11 points in a row early in the quarter to and never losing their grip on the game again. Rudy Gay lead the way with one of his best all-around games of the season, with 26 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and — cherry on top — zero turnovers. Mike Conley had 12 assists. Marc Gasol had a double-double (17/12). O.J. Mayo was on offensive force off the bench (16 points, 5 assists), continuing to be effective in his back-up point guard minutes. And Marreese Speights (18), Tony Allen (12), and Quincy Pondexter (11) all chipped in double figures as well. (Pondexter was 2-3 from three-point range and has now hit a three-pointer in four of his past six games, a good trend for him and the team's bench production.)
All-in-all, the good vibes continue. (Minus maybe a wishing-to-be-traded Sam Young; check the bottom left corner of that photo.) Now the team will have two more days off heading into another winnable road game Saturday night in Phoenix.