Posted on: December 15, 2022, 01:14h.
Last updated on: December 15, 2022, 01:14h.
The Memphis Grizzlies have the longest active winning streak in the NBA with six victories in a row, and they’re now tied with the New Orleans Pelicans for the best record in the Western Conference at 18-9.
The Grizzlies survived a rough patch in mid-November when they went 1-4 and slipped to 10-8. Since that low point, the Grizzlies went 8-1 including a six-game winning streak.
Last season, the Grizzlies were the surprise team in the Western Conference and secured the #2 playoff seed with a 56-26 record. They were eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals by the #3 Golden State Warriors. Ja Morant injured his knee in Game 3, but even without Morant the Warriors needed six games to finally knock out the young Grizzlies.
After gaining much-needed playoff experience, fans expect the Grizzlies to make a deep postseason run. The Grizzlies are +1600 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA Championship as the eighth-highest team on DraftKings’ futures board.
The Grizzlies are +700 odds to win the Western Conference and secure a trip to the 2023 NBA Finals. They’re the fifth team on the board even though they’re tied for the best record in the conference.
The Grizzlies and Pelicans are in a tight two-team race to win the Southwest Division. The Grizzlies are a slight favorite at +105 odds to win back-to-back divisional titles, and the Pelicans are +115 odds. The Dallas Mavericks (14-14) loom at +600 odds to win a second Southwest title in the last three seasons.
Griz Not at Full Strength… Yet
Morant has been getting better every season since the Grizzlies selected him with the #2 overall pick out of Murray State in the 2019 NBA Draft. Now in his fourth year in the NBA, Morant averages an impressive 27.7 points, 7.8 assists, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. He’s hitting career highs in all four statistical categories, and he’s only 23-years old.
Morant stepped up when Desmond Bane went down with a toe injury. Bane, the Grizzlies’ second-best scorer averaging 24.7 ppg, missed the last 14 games. The Grizzlies thought he’d return in two weeks, but it’s been a month since he last suited up. Bane has done some light drills over the last week, but he’s yet to be cleared for full-contact practice.
Without Bane, the Grizzlies dropped four out of five games before they got back on track by winning eight out of the last nine games. Big man Jaren Jackson, Jr. missed the start of the season while recovering from a fractured foot. He returned to the starting line up just as Bane got injured. As soon as Jackson found his groove, the Grizzlies started winning again.
The Grizzlies cannot wait for Bane to return because it will mark the first time this season they have their team back at full strength.
In the meantime, backup guard Tyus Jones played some big minutes for the Grizzlies replacing Bane in the starting five. Jones led the Grizzlies to a 25-point blowout victory against the Hawks the other night to help extend their winning streak to six in a row. Morant did not play while he nursed a minor thigh injury, but Jones led the Grizzlies with 22 points and 11 assists.
On Deck: Greek Freak, 4-Game Road Trip, and Warriors on Christmas
The Grizzlies will be tested tonight when they host the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the second-best record in the NBA at 20-7. The Grizzlies are a -2 favorite at the FedEx Forum against the visiting Bucks. The matchup between Ja Morant and Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo could be a glimpse of the 2023 NBA Finals.
The Boston Celtics have the best record in the NBA at 22-7 record, and the Bucks are the second-best team in the league. The Celtics and Bucks are the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, and both represent the last two Eastern Conference champions.
The Grizzlies embark on a four-game road trip this weekend with four tough matchups against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, and Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors eliminated the Grizzles from last season’s playoffs. NBA executives took note of that budding rivalry, which is why those two teams are the prime-time game on Christmas.
Grizzlies fans feel strongly that should’ve beaten the Warriors and advanced to the 2022 Western Conference Finals if Morant did not injure his knee early in the series. The Warriors’ Jordan Poole inadvertently grabbed Morant’s knee during a loose ball in Game 3, which led to Morant missing the remainder of the series with a sprained knee. Fans feel that the dirty play caused the injury, but replays indicated Morant injured his knee earlier in the game.
The Grizzlies have a chance to enact revenge against the Warriors on Christmas during this new feisty rivalry.