There is a common saying in sports that says “The best offense is a good defense”. The Memphis Grizzlies would have a lot of mean things to say to whoever coined that phrase.
While the Grizzlies currently give up the 3rd fewest points per games to opposing teams, they themselves score the 6th fewest points per game out of any team. This number is made substantially worse by the fact that 12 of the top 15 teams in points scored per game are Western Conference teams. Thus, it is clear that in order for the Grizzlies to make a run for the playoffs, they will need to boost their scoring output.
It would be wrong to blame the Grizzlies for scoring so few points without taking into consideration that the team has had issues staying healthy. Mike Conley, the team’s leading scorer, recently came back from an ankle sprain that led him to miss seven games, and Marc Gasol missed 23 games after spraining his MCL in November. Tony Allen has also been unable to stay healthy, missing 26 games with multiple injuries to his hand and wrist. These three players alone combine for an average of over 40 points per game.
However, even with these injuries, it doesn’t justify the fact that the team isn’t scoring enough points. Out of the top 100 players in average points per game in the NBA this year, only 3 of the players are Grizzlies: Mike Conley (38), Zach Randolph (43), and Mark Gasol (85). In comparison, all teams in their conference (with the exception of the Lakers and Jazz) have leading scorers who put up more points per game than Mike Conley.
Despite their poor scoring output, Memphis is still an undeniably strong team. They give up both the fewest points and field goals made per game out of any team in the West. They are they also turn the ball over less than any other team in the West, averaging only 12.6 per game. In the rebounding department, while they themselves get a bland 42.1 rebounds per game, they limit their opponents to an average of 39.6 rebounds per game, nearly a whole rebound less than the next closest team. So, while they haven’t proven themselves on offense, the Grizzlies seem to be a legitimate threat in every other aspect of the game.
Their upcoming schedule is not going to be kind to them. 7 out of their 9 remaining games against teams in the Eastern Conference will have the Grizzlies face off against teams that currently hold a spot in the playoffs, including a bout against the Pacers and 2 games against the Heat. The Grizzlies also have a ton of tough opponents to face with their remaining 14 games in the Western Conference. It includes 3 games against teams in their division, where the Grizzlies only hold 2 wins in the 13 games played against division opponents, both of which coming against the one team in their division they don’t play again, the Houston Rockets.
The Grizzlies have been hot coming off of the All-Star break by winning 5 of their last 7 games, but they are going to have to start playing better offense if they want to stay hot and make the playoffs.