Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Real Talk: The One Where I Walk It Back for the Stretch Run

Posted By on Tue, Feb 18, 2020 at 11:35 AM

click to enlarge Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr.
  • Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr.

As everyone is winding down from the excitement of All-Star Weekend and we enter the stretch run to the end of the regular season, now seems like a good time to publicly rescind a thing that I said here in this space last month.

At the time, it seemed like a pretty reasonable position – this early in a rebuild, the playoffs shouldn’t be the season’s goal, and thus the Grizzlies should continue their focus on developing as a team, not altering plans in a pursuit to win now.

It was not meant to disparage any part of this fledgling squad. I didn’t realize how many people would misinterpret it or just be plain mad about it. I’m looking at you, Memphis Twitter. 

But now the trade deadline has passed and with it my biggest fear (an ill-advised roster move in an effort to win now). The Grizzlies seem to have landed organically in the 8th seed, so I’m ready to reconsider my previous position on the playoffs. 

Two things have set us on this path. One, this team has been light years better than anyone expected. Two, other teams in the West have been a lot worse than expected.

It’s amazing how much can happen in the space of a month. Since I published that article in early January, the Grizzlies have played 16 games, posting a 12-4 record, including a seven-game winning streak.

During that time we have also seen: a career-high scoring game from Brandon Clarke, Ja Morant’s first NBA triple-double, and the aforementioned players, plus Jaren Jackson Jr. playing in the Rising Stars Challenge game during NBA All-Star Weekend.

Along the way the team has managed to surpass the overall expected win total they were predicted to have, with still 28 games left to play in the regular season.  

This squad has absolutely proven me wrong and I am not above admitting that.

They truly are so much better than anyone anticipated, and I can’t recall having this much fun watching winning Grizzlies basketball in years.

There is a part of me will always feel sentimental about the Core Four era of Grit 'n Grind. That team meant a lot to this city, and even in today’s RINGZ culture, that still means something. 

But I have quickly grown to love the new GNG era, the #GrzNxtGen one. If this is the future of our franchise, I will take it.

So, in conclusion: F*ck it, let’s go to the playoffs. 

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