Barring a few additions and subtractions at the end of the bench, the Memphis Grizzlies enter the 2015-2016 season with virtually the exact same roster. After 5 consecutive postseason runs going as far as the Western Conference Finals, the Grizzlies feel confident once again in their heavily criticized style of play that values tough and grittiness over all.
The Grizzlies understand that the NBA season is a marathon not a race and they have the personnel and tools to deal with a tough initial schedule. Through the first month of basketball action, Memphis will hit the court for 18 competitions, with half of those being played in Tennessee at the FedEx Forum, where the Grizz were 31-10 last season. October 28th is the date to mark on your calendar if you’re a Grizzlies fan, as LeBron James and the Cavaliers will take a visit to Memphis for the season opener.
After last season’s defeat in the second round by the hands of the Golden State Warriors, the Grizzlies should be looking forward to two separate rematches in November. The first will be played on November 2nd in Oakland, while the second comes on November 11th at home. Just like Memphis, the Warriors did a solid job of retaining their championship core. The Grizzlies are one of the few teams that match-up well against the defending champions and will use their physicality and top-4 defense to suffocate Stephen Curry and company.
The X-Factor for the Grizzlies this month will be Jeff Green. The 29-year old oozes talent and it’s shown in his highlight dunks, lockdown defense and all-around play. However, his inconsistencies and lack of mental toughness have sometimes been detrimental for the team. In fact, Memphis was 9.8 points better per 100 possessions when Green was off the court. Add to the fact that he had a poor playoff run in which he shot just 33% from the field, and there are some alarming red flags. There’s no doubt that Green has the potential to elevate this squad to the next level, but he needs to find his absolute place in the system in the opening sequences of the season.
A key stretch for the Grizzlies early on will be a defining 5 game road trip from November 2nd to the 9th. They will square-off against a handful of West coast teams including the Warriors, Kings, Blazers, Jazz and Clippers before heading back to Memphis. If the Grizzlies can survive this stretch, they will be looking in mighty fine shape as 7 of their following 10 games will be played at home. The Grizzlies should have NBA Finals aspirations entering the 2015-2016 campaign, but it all starts in this month of November.
Courtesy of Bleacher Report