As the playoff races are heating up in the NBA and the regular season is winding down, one team out West that nobody is talking about is hitting their stride at just the right time. It’s not the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers, or San Antonio Spurs. It’s the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis has won eight of their last ten games, and during their torrid stretch they have brought down the Heat, Lakers, Thunder, Mavericks, and Clippers. The Grizzlies showed their teeth last year in the NBA Playoffs and they will not be an easy out this year no matter where they finish in the standings. The Grizzlies are one of the deepest teams in the NBA, they are getting healthy at the right time, and their physical and athletic style will give anyone problems once the playoffs get started in May.
Mike Conley joined WHBQ in Memphis with Greg and Eli to talk about the ups and downs of the season, if he has noticed how difficult the schedule is this year because of how condensed it is, if their goal is to finish in the top four before the playoffs start, whether he looks at the standings and what other teams in the Western Conference are doing on a nightly basis, and the adversity this team has faced compared to last season.
On the ups and downs of the season:
“Our team has grown a lot. We’ve had to go through a lot of adversity with guys being injured and out of the lineup but I think now we’re starting to hit our stride a little bit. Guys are focused and we’re playing well. I think the Miami game was very big for us and just as big as the Dallas game but I think we’re just getting better as the weeks go on. Hopefully this continues into a big playoff run.”
If he has noticed how difficult the schedule is this year because of how condensed it is:
“You start to notice a little bit and you’re in that fourth game of the fifth night but I think more so than anything you’re just trying to battle injuries, guys are trying to stay healthy and keep their bodies as fresh as possible but I think we just love to play basketball so the amount of games I don’t think is an issue. I think guys just wish their bodies can hold up for all of them.”
If the goal of the Grizzlies is to be in the top four prior to the playoffs starting:
“It is. Being in the top four is definitely a reachable goal. We’re right outside that spot. If we just take care of business and continue to get better and continue to win these tough games against these good teams we will have a great chance. The West is so competitive and as long as we stay focused and keeping it game by game I think we have a great chance.”
Whether he keeps tabs on what the other teams in the West are doing on a nightly basis:
“It’s hard not to every now and then to not look at the standings to see what guys are doing and what teams are moving up and stuff like that. I think we’ve done a great job of trying to block that out and just worry about taking care of what we control and that’s what we do on the court. As long as we do that I think we will be fine.”
How the adversity the team has faced this year compared to last year:
“I think almost more so. Like you said we’ve had injuries and multiple guys, we’ve had eight games where we’ve had to play big teams without our star players and we’ve done a great job with it this year. We’ve just had to find a way to win games and we’re not a three point shooting team per se but we hit threes some games and then the next game we will just try to lock you down defensively or whatever it may be we will find a way to win. That’s been our motto since day one.”