Some unbelievable things happened this week with the announcement that Peyton Manning is no longer a Colt and one of his biggest sponsors, Oreo cookies, celebrating their 100th birthday. Who among us has never had one of “America’s favorite cookies”? Over 20.5 million Oreos are eaten daily and for good reason. Whether you eat it whole or take it apart, with or without milk, you cannot deny the fact that these cookies are a hallmark of our culture.
Less unbelievable but just as good is the fact that the Grizzlies have a perfect record after the All-Star break. The hallmark of the run that the Grizzlies are riding has been stellar fourth quarter play. Memphis is averaging 26 fourth quarter points since the All-Star break and holding opponents to just 18.5 points in that quarter. Combine the Grizzlies’ perfect record with the news that Zach Randolph is participating in full contact practice and every Memphis fan is as excited as I am when I get the seasonal Halloween Oreos (I just love the orange cream filling). It is time again for our weekly Grizzlies 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?
Winning. They are playing some of their best basketball of the year, winning 5 straight and 11 of their last 13. Over the past 13 games the Grizzlies are averaging 97 points per game while holding opponents to just over 91 points per game. Those numbers are better than a double stuffed Oreo with a glass of milk if you ask me. This is their second longest win streak of the year and it could not come at a better time. With Zach Randolph’s return just around the corner, the Grizzlies will continue to solidify their spot in the Western Conference and try to get at least one home court series in the playoffs. Memphis is now the third seed in the Western Conference, making it hard to believe that just a few weeks ago the Grizzlies were battling with the Trail Blazers, Rockets, and Jazz for the final playoff spot.
2) What do the Grizzlies need to do?
Continue making effort plays. Unlike points, blocks, and assists you cannot measure heart, effort, and the will to win. Those things are only visible as you watch the game, and the Grizzlies have a team that will do anything for a win. Tony Allen leads the team and sets the tempo when it comes to making effort plays. Allen’s effort is contagious and always gets the home crowd going. He is routinely seen chasing down loss balls, diving into the crowd, and getting deflections. It is not just Allen that is out hustling opponents, everybody on the team is contributing when it comes to effort. It is part of the grit and grind culture that the Grizzlies have embraced since day one. From Mike Conley and Rudy Gay playing the passing lanes to Dante Cunningham full court pressing; it is the little things, the effort plays that separate this team from the others in the Western Conference.
3) What will the Grizzlies do?
Not rush Zach Randolph’s return. We keep hearing things like “when he is ready” from the Grizzlies camp about when Z-Bo will play again. And why not take things slow with their star big man, especially when the team is playing so well without him for the time being? Do not get me wrong, you want Randolph on the court as soon as possible, but with the play of Maurice Speights and Dante Cunningham in his absence, Memphis does not have to feel rushed to bring Randolph back. This will allow Z-Bo to build more confidence in his knee and get better acclimated to rhythm and flow of the game. Pretty soon Randolph we be able to twist in the paint, give opponents a good lick, and dunk the ball like he twists, licks, and dunks his Oreo cookies.
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C.J. Hurt covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from FedExForum.
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