Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
TNT's slogan is "We know drama."
Maybe they can teach the NBA a thing or two.
Seriously, when did the National Basketball Association turn into the National Boring Association?
The trade deadline was a yawn fest. The Heat are beating teams so easily it's not even fun to watch. The Spurs, Thunder and Celtics are doing exactly what they do every year.
Same characters, same plot ... whoever is writing the story of this tired NBA season must have a bad case of writer's block.
At least DeAndre Jordan gave us a decent YouTube moment by dunking over Brandon Knight a few days ago (I can't remember a more ferocious in-game dunk in the last ten years).
But then I thought, maybe I'm just not looking in the right place.
Turns out we have a solid plot twist brewing in Memphis right now.
Right now, the Grizzlies are looking like a ten on the dark horse meter. Over the last month they've won almost as many games as the Heat with none of the hype.
If the surging Grizzlies can conquer the Clippers on Wednesday night, it will be their 14th win in their past 15 contests. Their one loss during that span? A seven-point defeat at Miami on March 1.
Rudy Gay used to be the team's go-to player on offense but he's moved on to greener (and probably much colder) pastures. Memphis shipped Gay to Toronto in late January.
Since Gay's departure, the Grizzlies have been forced to rely on the likes of Mike Conley and Pau's kid brother Marc Gasol.
So far, so good.
Conley's 15.0 ppg scoring average during the Grizzlies' hot streak is a vast improvement over the 13.2 ppg he averaged during his first 46 games of the season. His assist numbers are also on the rise (7.7 apg since February 8, 5.8 apg before that date).
Gasol's contributions have been even more significant. Already considered one of the most skilled big men in all of basketball, Gasol has elevated his status by averaging 16.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg and 5.3 apg since February 8. Prior to his 14-game tear, Gasol had been producing at a rate of just 13.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 3.5 assists per contest.
Zach Randolph has been up to his usual tricks (17.0 ppg, 12.1 rpg since the All-Star break) but the real surprise has been the emergence of Ed Davis. The 23-year-old out of UNC has leapfrogged Darrell Arthur on the team's depth chart and is now a legitimate double-double threat whenever he takes the court.
Davis showed flashes with Toronto (9.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg in 45 games before the Raptors traded him) but was quickly banished to the back of the bench upon his arrival in Memphis. Davis averaged just 9.8 minutes per game in his first 12 appearances.
Davis answered the call when Randolph went down with an ankle injury and since then, owners have watched his fantasy value soar. Over his last five games, Davis has posted averages of 10.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg and 2.4 bpg. During that period, Davis has logged 26.6 minutes per game. He's also attempted 8.2 field goals per game, a massive upgrade from the 2.6 he was averaging at the beginning of his tenure in Memphis.
Of course, the larger volume of shots wouldn't mean much if Davis was missing most of them. Instead he's been deadly accurate, converting on 24 of his 41 field goal attempts since March 3 (58.5 percent).
While Gasol and Randolph have been leading the charge on offense (96.4 ppg as a team during the streak compared to 93.0 the rest of the season), Conley (2.43 steals per game since February 8) has been anchoring one of the stingiest defensive units in basketball. Throughout the team's recent rise to dominance, Memphis has allowed just 88.0 ppg. Before that, they were averaging 90.0 ppg, which is still pretty impressive.
Now fantasy owners have a decision to make: should they go all in or wait for the Grizzlies to inevitably fall back to reality?
Memphis has only defeated two teams with winning records during its 13-1 stretch and the two teams weren't Miami or OKC: they were Brooklyn and Golden State. Pummeling a bunch of bottom feeders isn't the same as beating the upper echelon of the NBA.
Memphis has also been prone to streakiness in the past. The Grizzlies opened the season by collecting wins in 12 of their first 14 games but followed that up by losing four of their next six. Before they embarked on their current 13-1 run, Memphis had also lost four out of six.
Now is the Grizzlies' chance to prove they're for real. Eleven of their last 20 games will be against teams with winning records including each of their next three road games. Overall, 12 of Memphis' final 20 games will be played away from the Fed Ex Forum.
For now, I only have one foot on the Memphis bandwagon. I'm not sure what it would take to get me to move my second foot forward but beating the Clippers on Wednesday wouldn't be a bad start.
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