Despite dramatic recent wins in Miami and Oklahoma City, a home victory over defending champion Dallas, and a big win Monday night in a showdown with playoff-seeding rival and potential post-season opponent Los Angeles Clippers, the biggest night of the Grizzlies season so far is tonight.
The Grizzlies enter tonight in fifth place in the West, but only a half a game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth and two games behind the Los Angeles Lakers (and only one game in the loss column) for the third seed. And if the all three teams' games play out tonight in the most likely fashion, the Grizzlies would end the night in sole possession of fourth and tied in the loss column with the Lakers for third place. What to watch for:
7 p.m. - Suns at Grizzlies: For all this to happen, it has to start with some Griz TCB on the home floor, and despite how well the Grizzlies are playing right now, it might not be easy. The Suns have won both previous meetings between the teams this season, both in Phoenix — 86-84 in late January and 98-91 in mid-March. The Grizzlies gave up 34 offensive rebounds in these two games, with Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley, and Robin Lopez, in particular, hurting the Grizzlies on the glass. This was a different Grizzlies team, especially in the first game, where the Grizzlies bench produced on 15 points, including getting 22 scoreless minutes from Josh Selby and Sam Young. But the Suns are a different team too. A surprisingly playoff contender, the Suns have gone 5-1 in April with their only loss by single digits at Denver and have averaged 120 points in their past two games while getting strong recent bench play from Michael Redd, Sebastian Telfair, and rookie Markieff Morris. I'll be on hand again tonight, commenting live on my FlyerGrizBlog Twitter feed and filing a postgame notebook later in the night.
7 p.m. - Clippers at Thunder: This is the first of two meetings between the Clippers and Thunder in the Clips' next four games. The Clippers are coming off Monday's loss to the Grizzlies. The Thunder are coming off a 20-point road win in Milwaukee. Hopefully, for the Grizzlies, those opposite trajectories continue.
7:30 p.m. - Lakers at Spurs: The Lakers are supposedly playing this one without an injured Kobe Bryant. The Spurs, after sitting their top players in the last game at Utah, will presumably get them all back tonight, and they won 11 straight before sitting their stars Monday night. This is the first of three games against the Spurs in the Lakers' next six, so there's real potential for the Lakers to slide and open up that third seed.