Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Grizzlies continue to do their damage inside
By Ernest Tolden, ESPN Stats & Info
(The Oklahoma City Thunder host the Memphis Grizzlies, Wednesday at 8 ET on ESPN.)
While other teams have captured national headlines early in the season, the 5-1 Memphis Grizzlies are quietly off to their best start in franchise history. Since losing their season opener to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Grizzlies have rolled out five consecutive wins, tied for the longest current win streak in the NBA.
Memphis has outscored its opponents by an average of nine points per game. That point differential is second in the NBA behind the New York Knicks (+15.6).
On the offensive end, the Grizzlies have been much better this season. They rank fifth in offensive efficiency, averaging 103 points per 100 possessions. Last season Memphis ranked 18th. (Offensive efficiency measures a team’s scoring while accounting for the different paces teams play.)
As they did in years past, the Grizzlies have continued to do their damage inside. Memphis averages 46.7 points in the paint, which ranks third in the NBA. The Grizzlies have ranked in the top five in points in the paint scored each of the last four seasons.
The Grizzlies’ strong inside game has been powered by the front-court duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. After missing 38 games last season, Randolph has been a force, leading the league in rebounding (14.5 RPG) and recording a double-double in all six games.
Gasol has been excellent in post-up plays this season. He’s averaging 1.09 points per play and scoring more than 57 percent of the time on such plays. Both rank in the top 10 this season.
While the Grizzlies have improved their offense, they also have been one of the best defensive teams. They rank second in defensive efficiency, allowing 94.7 points per 100 possessions. Only the Knicks (93.6) allow points at a lower rate this season.
Memphis is coming off a convincing 104-86 victory against the Miami Heat on Sunday, holding the defending champions to just 38 percent shooting from the field. The Grizzlies have held each of their last three opponents to less than 41 percent shooting. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s tied for the longest such streak in franchise history.
The Grizzlies will look to extend their win streak against the defending Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder, who are on a five-game win streak of their own and have won three of the last four meetings against the Grizzlies.