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Michael Heisley promised the Grizzlies’ long waiting fans the playoffs this season.

Well he didn’t exactly promise that as much as say he expected it and what he expects, we expect so it is like a promise. Right?

Well just how close are the Grizzlies to that mark? Can the long suffering fans of the Grizzlies see a light at the end of this tunnel? A three game winning streak can do wonders for people’s imaginations after all. The Grizzlies are now just 2.5 games out of the 8th playoff spot and with the return of Tony Allen and Xavier Henry dressing out again as healthy as the team has been all season. The same can’t be said of the other teams competing for the last playoff spot.

I am sure you have heard that Camby is out at Portland for until after the all-star break most likely and Roy could be out for the season. Houston’s injuries have been well documented as well as the Rockets already have a roster exemption for Yao Ming and Brroks’ ankle has him bouncing in out of rehab. Phoenix big men have been hobbled most of the season. The race is getting interesting to say the least. Here are the schedules heading into the All-Star Weekend between Portland, Houston, Phoenix and Memphis (the main 4 competitors for the last playoff spot).

For Portland its vs Boston, vs San Antonio, @ Denver, @ Indy, @ Cleveland, vs Chicago, @ Toronto, @ Detroit, @ Minnesota and vs New Orleans. 5 games against winning teams (all at home) and 6 games against losing teams (all on the road). Actually about as favorable as you could ask for.

Houston has vs Clippers, @ Dallas, @ San Antonio, @ Lakers, @ Utah, vs Memphis, @ Denver, vs Minnesota, vs Dallas, vs Denver, vs Philly. The first five games are as tough as you could ask for then the huge game against Memphis before the run to the playoffs. Denver will be a tough team to call since Carmello is running out of time for the Nuggets to trade him. Who knows what their team’s going to be like with the media frenzy at that time?

Phoenix just lost by 10 at Philly so I don’t know if they are going to be competing for the playoffs anyway (they traded away their best player for an expiring contract after all) but since they are 0.5 games ahead of Houston at this moment I will include them. Phoenix has vs Charlotte, vs Boston, vs New Orleans, vs Milwaukee, vs Oklahoma City, @ Golden State, vs Golden State, @ Utah, vs Sacramento, vs Utah, vs Dallas.

In case you were counting that’s only 2 road games between now and the All-Star break and 9 home games. Since they have already played two fewer road games than the Grizzlies it is safe to assume their schedule will be monstrous after the break. Still Phoenix’s 9 home games have 5 games against teams with winning records and the two road games include back to back games against Golden State and one at Utah.

For Memphis its @ New Jersey, @ Philly, vs Washington, vs Orlando, @ Minnesota, vs Cleveland, @ Houston, vs Lakers, @ OKC, vs Milwaukee, vs Denver and vs Philly. 5 road games (4 losers and 1 winner) and 7 home games (3 teams with winning records and 4 teams with losing records).

The current standings are Portland, Memphis (2.5 games behind), Phoenix (3 games behind) and Houston (4 games back). So my question to you is….who will be in 8th place at the All-Star break?

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