The Memphis Grizzlies are good. Like really good. Like torch the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder good.
After losing to the Los Angeles Clippers on opening night, the Grizzles have won six straight games, establishing themselves as one of the NBA’s most formidable powerhouses in the process. Four of those games were won by 10 or more points while the other two were won by at least eight.
It’s not like Memphis has had the luxury of facing pushovers either. Aside from the Heat and Thunder, the Grizzlies have defeated the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz—all of which are postseason hopefuls.
What’s this mean?
That it’s time to buy into the Grizzlies as not just a threat, but a dominant force.
Arguably, it’s been a long time coming for this squad. Ever since upsetting the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs, the hope has been that Memphis could contend with the likes of the Heat, Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers on a daily basis.
But the Grizzlies haven’t been what you would call healthy. During that 2010-11 campaign, Rudy Gay was sidelined and forced to watch as his team made an improbable push without him. Then last season Zach Randolph fought a borderline losing battle with injuries as well, and Memphis’s overall playoff performance against the Clippers was truly self-crippling.
Yet that was then, this is now. And now the Grizzlies are a perpetual force. They’re one of the deepest teams in the league and the low-post combination of Randolph and Marc Gasol has proved too overwhelming for opponents—even big man laden foes like the Jazz—to contend with.
And this is huge. Because right now, the Grizzlies are playing like the Thunder of last year, running the floor, pushing the ball and spreading the rock. They rank fifth in total offense with 101.6 points per game and have the league’s second highest win differential, beating their opponents by an average margin of 9.1 points a night.
How is that not something to get excited about? Better yet, how is that not something we can believe in?
Many have spent the better part of the last two years refusing to accept Memphis’ status as a contender or attempting to disprove their worth as a collective entity. For the most part, the Grizzlies didn’t do much to silence them. Sure, they finished fourth in the Western Conference last season, but they then proceeded to hand their playoff series to the Clippers. They also struggled to contend with elite teams consistently all season.
Not this year, though. This season, it’s the Grizzlies who are amongst the league’s elite, dismantling other teams that are considered elite.
So, as we sit back and still declare teams like the Heat, Lakers, Thunder Spurs and even New York Knicks favorites to win a title, remember there’s a team currently boasting the longest winning streak in the league.
Then remember that that team is the Grizzlies.
And then accept that they’re a powerhouse, who poses a legitimate threat to win the championship.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.