DALLAS, TX — For the last five seasons, the Memphis Grizzlies have been one of the most consistent franchises in the NBA.
Over that span, they have made five consecutive trips to the postseason including a trip to the conference finals in 2013, along with winning 50-games or more the last three seasons.
After winning 55 games and giving the Golden State Warriors all they wanted in the conference semifinals last year, the Grizzlies have struggled mightily all season long and have been anything but consistent. As a result, they are sporting a (14-14) mediocre .500 record as they enter their showdown with the Indiana Pacers in the “Grind House” tonight.
“It’s been crazy; the season has been a rollercoaster. We have played well for parts of the season and other parts we haven’t played so well,” Memphis starting point guard Mike Conley said. “We are just trying to fight through some some things and get to a part where we are consistent – once we do that, we know that we are deep enough and talented enough to be a team that can contend.”
To get a true look at just how up-and-down the Grizzlies have been this season, all one has to do is look at their results. Memphis’ longest winning streak this season has been a four-game stretch of wins, which came on the heels of a four-game losing streak where they were outscored by 11.7 points per a game and failed to score a 100 or more points in any of their losses.
A big problem surrounding the Grizzlies has been their inability to find a consistent style of play to fit with the forever changing landscape of the NBA.
With most teams throughout the league switching to consistently using three-guard up-tempo small ball lineups. Grizzlies head coach David Joerger is torn between following the new trend or staying with the post dominated lineup featuring NBA All-Stars Zack Randolph and Marc Gasol, which has been a catalyst to the team’s success over the last five seasons.
Due to searching for their identity this season, eight of the Grizzlies 14 wins have come by nine points or more. While on the other side of the coin, 11 of their 14 losses have come by the same total including losses to both defending conference champions Cleveland and Golden State by 30 and 50 points respectively in the first month of the season.
“We are caught in a transition period. It’s tough because we have done something so well for so long,” Conley said. “The league is just developing to a much more stretch and fast pace outside shooting league so its’s tough some nights if we are not making shots to win.”
To try to catch up with the league, Joerger has made the unconventional move inserting guard Courtney Lee into the starting lineup while bringing Randolph a two-time all-star off the bench the last four games. Despite the Grizzlies sporting a (1-3) record since the move, the 15-year veteran is committed to doing whatever it takes to turn things around for the Grizzlies:
“I take it with a grain of salt – whatever is best for our team,” Randolph said. “I’m going to ride with it and give all I got.”
Since Randolph began coming off the bench, his fellow post mate Gasol has struggled to find his game and is stuck trying to find ways for the Grizzlies to get things on track:
“Over the last four games, we have a quarter where we are playing great defense and really good offense and then all of sudden we stop doing that,” Gasol said. “Every time we get hit, it takes a long time for us to get up.”
While the two pillars of Grizzlies franchise are struggling to find their way in the new system, it’s important the team figures things out quickly before the season gets way from them and they are left without a playoff spot:
“We got to get everybody working together and doing the same things and just have figure out how to bringing it every night,” Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers said.