Forgotten in the midst of super teams, posse talk, triple-double streaks, groin kicking and bottle flipping, are the Memphis Grizzlies aka Grind City, who stunned the Golden State Warriors in a 110-89 blowout win on Saturday night, handing them their fourth loss of the season.
The win came without the likes of Andre Iguodala and Zaza Pachulia who were both injured. Last year it wouldn’t have been as much of a hindrance for the Warriors to cover but with a severe lack of depth they were ripe for picking. As Steph Curry appropriately put their loss: “We sucked tonight.” However, the Grit n Grind Grizzlies made the most of their opportunity without Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons available to play.
Memphis are now 17-8 and sit in fifth place. Mind you, the Grizzlies are only 4-5 against teams over .500 and have enjoyed a very friendly schedule to start to the season.
But the question must be asked; is this their last legitimate shot?
This is not a young team. Marc Gasol (31), Tony Allen (34) and Zach Randolph (35) are no spring chickens anymore. Like the Clippers, this is a team that has been around the block and has had their playoff moments without reaching the NBA Finals for the last six seasons.
The Grizzlies have invested a lot of their salary cap to Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and Marc Gasol. Much was made of Conley’s historic five-year $153 million contract in the offseason and while the Grizzlies are a far stronger team with Conley on the floor, there’s no escaping the fact that there is a very large return expected in that investment. It’s not about playoffs and making it to the semi finals. We are talking a championship with that kind of money.
Combine that with Parson’s $22 million contract, who is 28, injury-prone (he’s only played six games so far this season) and yet to deliver on his potential, things may become very sticky in Memphis.
If this is their last legitimate shot at a coveted NBA title, then they have a valuable opportunity to stamp their credentials against the NBA champions – the Cleveland Cavaliers – in a back-to-back home-and-away fixture tomorrow and Tuesday.
Winning both games may be a little too zealous, but it’s vital they prove themselves if they are to be considered a legitimate contender.
It's win now.... otherwise, the writing will be on the wall for the ol’ Grit n Grind Grizzlies.