The Memphis Grizzlies are the hottest team in the NBA, and the National Media doesn’t want to talk about them. I guess they haven’t gotten over the dream match-up that didn’t happen, the Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors. TV ratings would have been sky-high for Curry versus Mitchell. But the second-youngest team in the NBA destroyed those plans.
The match-up we get is the Memphis Grizzlies versus the Utah Jazz. “Utah can beat the Grizzlies without Donovan Mitchell,” is what one analyst said. Donovan missed Game 1 of the first-round series between the Jazz-Grizzlies. Most NBA analysts believe the Grizzlies will struggle against the Jazz, and it will be a short series. I am pretty sure the Grizzlies are not listening to those analysts. Sunday’s victory over the Jazz is a great example; the Grizzlies do not hear the noise.
The Grizzlies have been in playoff mode for the past two weeks. They are the only team to win two play-in games to make the playoffs. Plus, the Grizzlies are young and fearless. They are not afraid of the moment. They have nothing to lose. The team is ahead of schedule. At the beginning of the season, the Grizzlies were projected to finish eleventh in the Western Conference.
Michael Conley, a former member of the Memphis Grizzlies, understands this young team. He once was a key piece on an underdog Grizzlies team; that beat a number one seed ten years ago.
Game two will be different because of the return of Donovan Mitchell. But the Grizzly’s effort will not change. Dillon Brooks will step up to the challenge and is probably looking forward to the match-up between him and Mitchell. Mitchell poses a different challenge than Curry for Brooks. But I am sure Taylor Jenkins and the rest of the coaching staff have a game plan in place for tomorrow night.
The Grizzlies can win this series if the bench is productive. The Grizzlies had one the most productive benches in the NBA during the regular season. But the bench has struggled lately. The end of the first and beginning of the second quarter is significant to the Grizzly’s success in this series. The bench has to maintain the momentum that the starter creates; there can not be a drop-off.
The Grizzlies will win the series. Mitchell’s health will play a significant role in this series. But even if he is healthy, the Grizzlies will win. It’s just a matter of games; if he is healthy, the series could go six or seven. If he is not, the series is over in five.