MikeCheck: Grizzlies eager to leverage home-court advantage as they enter NBA playoffs

MEMPHIS – Glancing over his shoulder at No. 50 hanging above FedExForum, Zach Randolph searched deep when asked what advice he would give his former team as the young, budding Grizzlies head into the start of the NBA playoffs.

“Stay together and protect the Grindhouse,” the retired Grizzlies legend offered. “The playoffs are different. You work hard all year to get in position for home court advantage. (Opponents) have to go through Memphis. Protect the Grindhouse, stick together as a team, and I like our chances with these guys.

MEMPHIS, TN – DECEMBER 11: Zach Randolph waves to fans during his jersey retirement ceremony. Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images.

Randolph offered his playoff blessings to these NXTGen Grizzlies in promotional appearances in recent days as the franchise wrapped up a historic regular season. Memphis enters the playoffs with the second best record in the NBA at 56-26 and holds the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

When the Grizzlies open Game 1 on Saturday against the Clippers or Timberwolves, it will be the first time they’ve hosted the start of a playoff series since Randolph’s Grit ‘N’Grind Grizzlies were at their peak a decade ago. years amid seven consecutive playoff trips.

The playoffs are different. You work hard all year to get in position for home court advantage. (Opponents) have to go through Memphis. Protect the Grindhouse, stick together as a team, and I like our chances with these guys.

Zach Randolph

These Grizzlies did it with fierce defense, physical play, rugged toughness and veteran leadership. This version of the Grizzlies set franchise records for scoring, three-pointers, highlight-reel athleticism and a youthful energy that propelled them to shock the NBA as this season’s breakout team.

Memphis is banking on home-court advantage to provide a boost that makes up for its relative youth and inexperience in the playoffs with the league’s second-youngest roster. This time a year ago, the Grizzlies advanced in the NBA Play-In Tournament to secure the No. 8 seed before falling to the top-seeded Jazz in five games in the first round. .

This time around, the Grizzlies didn’t leave much to chance in capturing one of the league’s top seeds. Memphis has won 19 of its last 22 FedExForum games and was one of only three NBA teams to finish with at least 30 home wins.

Essentially, the road through at least two rounds of the playoffs is through Memphis.

“It’s especially good when you can do a deep run, you can get out West and have home-court advantage all the way,” the Grizzlies swingman said. Dillon Brooks said as the Grizzlies opened playoff preparations in practice Tuesday. “We deserved it, we can be happy about it and really give our fans something to feel good about. We love our audience and believe they are the best at it all. We’re back in the playoffs steadily, and I can’t wait to see all those (rally) towels running around.

Growl Towels
MEMPHIS, TN – MAY 19: Towels are placed on fans’ chairs before the game against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament. Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images.

Those rally towels and raucous fans were FedExForum staples the last time the Grizzlies were this good. That team’s 56 wins this season were tied for the most in franchise history, and the Grizzlies finished 30 games above .500 for the first time since the 2012-13 season when they made their only trip to the Western Conference Finals.

Randolph remembers all it took for this team to defy the odds throughout this postseason run. He has seen some of the same characteristics in this season’s squad, although they play a completely different style which is equally distinctive.

With leader Ja Morant ranking among the NBA’s leading scorers with 27.4 points, forward Jaren Jackson Jr. league leader with 177 total blocks and guard Desmond ScourgeThe franchise-record 228 made 3 points, the Grizzlies ranked in the top five in the NBA in offensive and defensive efficiency.

And they solidified their game with dominant performances at home during the stretch run of the season despite juggling lineups due to injury concerns.

We’ve earned it, we can savor it and really give our fans something to feel good about. We love our audience and believe they are the best at it all. We’re constantly back in the playoffs, and I can’t wait to see all those (rally) towels lying around.

Dillon Brooks

“We were able to control what we could control, and along the way we had guys in and out of the lineup,” Bane said of the Grizzlies, who had their main unit of starting together for just 11 games this season. . “When guys fell, other guys took comfortable roles, and we handled the business. We put ourselves in a good position for the playoffs.

They have put themselves in a position to re-establish the Grindhouse as one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play this season. The playoff race saw the Grizzlies knock out the Suns, Warriors, Nets and Bucks in Memphis. These four teams are considered NBA title contenders with much more experience.

The goal is to build on that momentum as playoff preparations continue this week.

“When the season ended last year, we were looking forward to coming back, but we knew it was going to take months and months,” the Grizzlies coach said. Taylor Jenkins said to return to the playoffs for a second consecutive season. “Give our guys a lot of credit; we have worked very hard for a very long time to arrive at our best basketball. And we won’t know until we inform on Saturday, are we taking the action we need? There will definitely be anxiety. But we have earned this schedule.

Brooks insists the Grizzlies can act like they’ve been here before. This is partly because they can learn from the experiences of former Grizzlies who have been here before.

Like the man whose jersey number No. 50 hangs above the FedExForum grounds.

Give our guys lots of credit; we have worked very hard for a very long time to arrive at our best basketball. And we won’t know until we inform on Saturday, are we taking the action we need? There will definitely be anxiety. But we have earned this schedule.

Taylor Jenkins

“Guys can bounce off him,” Brooks said of Randolph’s occasional presence around the team. “He knows the meaning of physics and the will to win, to do anything at any cost. It’s amazing for him to be here, to give knowledge and to be a supporter. We don’t have enough, so I’m glad he was there and got to see us grow.

No team has had a bigger growth spurt in the past year than the Grizzlies.

As that playoff looms, they’re positioned at home to stretch even further.

The content on this page has not been reviewed or approved by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are his own and do not reflect the views of the Memphis Grizzlies or its basketball operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that come with being an accredited NBA member of the media.