MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - One week ago, Grizzlies fans weren’t too happy with the possible return to play format that was seemingly structured to get Zion Williamson or Damian Lillard in the playoffs. The newest proposal that’s expected to pass rewards its 3.5 game lead for the eighth seed in the western conference.
Senior editor for Grind City Media, Michael Wallace, believes the new plan is fair and one the Grizzlies can take advantage of. According to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski teams will play eight regular season games, before a possible play-in tournament for the final spot in the playoffs.
“They had a tough schedule remaining in their final 17 games and depending what this eight game schedule is going to look like, the Grizzlies are going to have a tough go of it, but they’re operating of a position of strength of that eighth seed and that’s what they wanted,” Wallace said.
Teams within six games of the final seed will be invited to Orlando, according to Wojnarowski. In the Western Conference, that includes Portland, New Orleans, San Antonio, Sacramento and Phoenix. There will only be a play-in tournament if the ninth seed is four games behind or less.
“What has to happen now, you have to beat the Grizzlies twice if the Grizzlies are to hold on to that eighth seed in what will be a play-in if it even gets to that point,” Wallace explained. “It also incentivizes to continue to win games and not even put themselves in position to have to get into a play in format. They still have games depending on how the schedule shakes up against some of these teams that are right behind them.”
Good news too for the Grizzlies. The youth of the team could be an advantage when it comes time to quick turnarounds and being able to adapt to a new atmosphere.
“You have a lot of young guys there that aren’t too far removed from playing at the Walt Disney World AAU tournament circuits, who aren’t too far removed from playing in Team USA U17 tournaments, who have been used to playing in a neutral site, multi-team faceted type situation," Wallace added. “So this won’t be new to some of these guys who are only a year or two removed from that kind of format. Plus, they’re younger, you’d think their bodies would be able to get into shape a little quicker. And they’re hungry too.”
Wallace said he’s talked to a lot of players around the league and most of them have a sadness of not being able to play in front of fans. However, he said for the Grizzlies, a young, hungry team that was never expected to be in a playoff position, now they have expectations and are embracing them, regardless of the circumstances.