UPDATED: ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz adds his more than two cents worth. See below.
Well, the Beale Street Bears are getting some love in the press this week. I suppose romper-stomping the defending NBA champions will do that for you. Most of the time, your friendly underdog team get an “awww, that’s cute” kind of pat on the head. “Poor wittle Dwyane Wade was sick.” Stuff like that. People who don’t watch the Grizzlies regularly are surprised. Those of us who DO watch, aren’t.
That’s changing though. The “Lamestream Media” (hey, I must admit: that phrase is kinda fun. I see why Sarah Palin uses it) is paying closer attention to the Grizzlies. And they’re noticing: Hey. These guys are pretty good. And they are noticing HOW the Grizzlies are succeeding these days. Great stuff.
UPDATE (12 p.m. 11/14): I ran across this bit from Kevin Arnovitz. The opening segment is TOO funny, and funnier because it’s kinda true:
By the time the Memphis Grizzlies are through mucking up your half-court possession, your offense looks like an unmade bed.
Your floor spacing is terrible, in part because Tony Allen brutalized your best wing, who never got to his intended destination. Not that it matters all that much, because Mike Conley has hounded your point guard so far to the sideline that the ball is now in a different area code. The passing lanes are clogged. Zach Randolph’s rump has pushed your big man off the block and all you’ve got is a morass of bodies that’s flailing around or gathered in a clump in some undesirable location.
With the clock ticking, the ball might land in the first row off a panic pass, or get picked off by Conley or Allen, or maybe the buzzers sound and the ref will pat his head signaling a 24-second violation.
You didn’t come close to getting what you wanted — you got Grizzed.
HILARIOUS! Now, on with the rest of the earlier post:
Much of this comes from ESPN. But first, some love from Chris Herrington, who routinely does great insight into the home team. An excerpt:
The Grizzlies were one of only two NBA teams — along with defending Western Conference champs and follow-up opponents the Oklahoma City Thunder — to rank among the league’s 10 best in offense, defense, and rebounding. . . .
The rebounding is not a mystery. The return of Zach Randolph, who currently leads the league at 14.5 boards a game, has pretty well taken care of that. Neither is the defense, which has been a constant since the Grizzlies put Tony Allen and Marc Gasol on the floor together two seasons ago.
But the offensive improvement — way up, from 20th to 9th, per possession — is a little more surprising . . . . Rather than individual dominance, a lot of small team factors have conspired to make this year’s Griz squad deeper, more dynamic, and more efficient on the offensive end of the floor.
If you want to know what those are . . . you know what to do.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein slotted the Grizz in at #5 this week. In this clip, which is conveniently queued up to start at remarks about the Grizzlies (following a brief advertisement), both Stein and ESPN stats guru John Hollinger break down why the Grizz are for real.
ESPN’s Michael Wallace has ascended in sports journalism to this peach of a gig: He’s one of the main guys who provides content for “Heat Index,” ESPN’s ongoing homage to Miami’s big three. And I guess if you can’t write about how The Heat dominated another overmatched team . . . well, I guess you have to write about how they got dominated:
Hypothetically shift the Grizzlies to the East, and they’d clearly be at least the second-best team in the conference and the biggest threat to the Heat’s supremacy. They’re bigger than Boston, better than Indiana and tougher than Chicago, New York, Brooklyn and Atlanta.
But as a geographical misfit out West, Memphis is a perennial afterthought, stuck in the public popularity standings behind the teams in Los Angeles as well as Oklahoma City, Dallas and, perhaps, San Antonio.
The Heat only have to see these guys twice a season, and one of those occasions is now behind them. Thankfully.
And then I ran across this piece on Grantland, who followed up this great profile on Lionel Hollins with a detailed analysis of the new turbocharged Grizzlies offense:
[Last season,] the team’s offense fell on its face whenever Conley left the game, but so far this season, Lionel Hollins has found good scoring combinations almost across the board. They even played small, with Gay at power forward, for long stretches of the Miami game, and they looked quick and effective in doing so.
Memphis is still crashing the offensive glass, drawing free throws, forcing heaps of turnovers, and defending at its usual levels. If the team can keep up this polished offensive punch, they are absolutely a threat in a suddenly muddled Western Conference.
Every one of those articles is a good read, particularly over your morning cup of joe. Enjoy, Grizz fans!!!