What a week it has been, especially with the 54th annual Grammy Awards this past Sunday. I am sure you all know by now that this year’s awards show was the second largest audience in Grammy history (The Grizzlies played Utah at FedExForum the same night). This year’s award show was full of great performances, heartfelt acceptance speeches, and Nicki Minaj being… well Nicki Minaj (by the way, I hope she got all of her “demons” out at the Grammys and is not in need of another exorcism during her 2012 NBA All-Star game performance).
While the Grammy Awards show is a pretty big event, it was overshadowed on Sunday by the Grizzlies’ game against the Jazz, where the Tams uniforms made their home debut. The Grizzlies lost that game, but the fans got some nifty Tams hats so it was not all bad. That was the Grizzlies’ only loss this week, as they posted a 3-1 record on the week with impressive wins over Indiana and divisional rival Houston, to remain in playoff contention. They now have two wins over the Rockets, which is going to be extremely important should the two teams tie for a playoff spot this season. The Grizzlies also managed to sneak out of the Prudential Center with a win against the Nets, making it just the fourth time all season that Memphis has won a game when trailing at the end of the third quarter. The All-Star break is right around the corner and some much needed rest will be welcomed by most of the Grizzlies (except Marc Gasol who will be playing in the All-Star game). Welcome to a special Grammy edition of this week’s 3-pointer, three things the Grizzlies are doing, need to do, and will be doing to improve upon their success as a team on a weekly basis.
1) What are the Grizzlies doing?
Remaining in the playoff race without one of their best players. Since Zach Randolph went down on January 1st with an MCL injury the Grizzlies have found a way to avoid Rolling In The Deep. They could have easily felt sorry for themselves and thought that the season was over, but instead the Grizzlies used his absence as Motivation and have gone 15-11 without Z-Bo. They are well within striking distance of the playoffs as they sit just a game and a half out of the fifth seed in the West. And honestly that is way better than most of us thought they would do when Randolph went down in early January (remember Memphis started 1-3 and had that awful blowout loss to Chicago). Especially since Randolph was the best player from last year’s team. He has been cleared to begin non-contact drills and every Grizzlies fan hopes he will return in early March so that Memphis can make a strong second half push into the playoffs.
2) What do the Grizzlies need to do?
Get more production out of their backup point guards. With Greivis Vasquez no longer in Memphis, Coach Hollins has rotated several players into the role of backup point guard this season. It is usually between Jeremy Pargo and Josh Selby, but O.J. Mayo has also played some minutes at the backup point guard position. Now All Of The Lights are on Pargo because Selby is in the D-League gaining some much needed experience and working on his point guard skills. So now The Show Goes On for the Grizzlies and it is Pargo’s show off the bench. He needs to do a better job running the offense. There are times when Pargo looks more than capable of playing the backup role, but there are also times when he struggles to get the team into their offense, especially with mostly second unit players on the court. It might be best for Pargo to play with Gay and Gasol in the lineup so they can calm him down when he starts to get erratic with the ball. Coach Hollins has done a good job with his lineups so far this season, so expect him to find one that suits Pargo’s style of play. It is impossible for Mike Conley to play the entire game, and getting solid minutes out of Pargo will go a long way towards ensuring another trip to the playoffs.
3) What will the Grizzlies do?
Finish strong before the All-Star break. The Grizzlies know the importance of closing out quarters and halves the right way, so expect them to finish up the half way point of the season with some solid play and much needed wins. This is the last week before every team will get a chance to rest their Body and Soul during the All-Star game festivities. Memphis will finish with three of their final four games at home, where they are a completely different team. The Grizzlies have turned the Grind House into one of the toughest places to play in the NBA. They are an impressive 10-5 at home and it seems like they grit and grind a little bit harder for the home crowd. A strong push headed into the All-Star break will give Memphis a huge confidence boost and make it easier for them when Randolph returns to the lineup.
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C.J. Hurt covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from FedExForum.
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