Skip to content

Lionel Hollins points to favorable schedule as the reason for the Grizzlies’ strong start

Dec 13, 2012, 11:46 AM EDT

Lionel Hollins, Jerryd Bayless, Mike Conley AP

PHOENIX — Reality has set in on the Memphis Grizzlies recently. But that doesn’t negate the team’s stronger-than-expected start.

After a loss in Phoenix on Wednesday to a Suns club that had dropped seven straight coming in, Memphis has now posted just two wins against three losses over its last five games. This may be closer to the true Grizzlies team that we will see over the course of the season, but they did open with a blistering record of 13-2, with quality wins over the Heat, Knicks, and Lakers during that stretch.

Before facing the Suns on Wednesday, I asked Hollins what he believed was the reason for his team’s early-season success. He clearly wasn’t overly excited about it, and was fairly logical in concluding that a favorable schedule was as much a reason for piling up those wins as was anything else.

“We won a few games against some really good teams that we didn’t do the year before,” he said. “I think our schedule was similar, except for the number of road games. In the past we’ve had 11 out of 14 on the road, and we played all of those teams on the road. This year we’ve had most of the good teams [at home] — except for the Clippers and Oklahoma City and San Antonio. We beat Miami at home, New York at home, the Lakers at home. It’s always nice to be at home.

“I think that we haven’t played a lot of back-to-backs; we’ve had a couple of back-to-backs, and we haven’t fared well in them so far. The schedule’s been very favorable.”

Memphis has only had three back-to-back sets thus far, and has won only once in that situation, on Nov. 17 at Charlotte.

Hollins is measured in his optimism because he’s well aware that early-season wins don’t translate to playoff success. Too many things can happen over the course of the year — including injuries, as Memphis was forced to deal with last season that affected its chance at a higher seed in the playoffs, and along with it, a lesser first round opponent.

The Grizzlies do have the league’s top-ranked defense right now in terms of points allowed per 100 possessions, and if that remains constant, good things will happen. But Hollins knows there’s plenty of room for improvement, and that there are simply too many factors at play for him to be idealistic about his team’s chances, especially with so much of the season’s games still remaining to be played.

“I don’t think we’ve played great every game by any stretch, but no team does,” he said. “What we want to do is continue to win, and get in a rhythm going toward the playoffs that lends itself to being successful. If we’re not playing well at the end of the year, we’re probably not going to be successful in the playoffs. But if we get to the point where we’re playing well, like we have in the past, things bode well.

“And then, you’ve got to have the right matchup.”

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Cleveland Cavaliers reach out to veteran Tayshaun Prince

    Jul 1, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Prince played better than you’d think last season, but he will turn 36 this coming year.

  2. Report: Kings aggressively pursuing Rajon Rondo

    Jul 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans

    Does putting Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and George Karl in close proximity to each other for an entire NBA season seem like a good idea?

  3. Report: Nets reach deals to re-sign Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young

    Jul 1, 2015, 2:12 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets- Game Four Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets- Game Four

    Lopez gets three years, $60 million; Young gets four years, $50 million.

  4. Report: Pacers pushing hard to sign Monta Ellis

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:58 AM EDT

    Monta Ellis Monta Ellis

    The Hawks, Nuggets and Kings are also interested.

  5. Report: Kevin Love to meet with Lakers later in week

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:13 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four Getty Images

    Love said he was committed to Cleveland, now he is flirting with other teams.

  6. Report: Wizards “increasingly optimistic” they can retain Paul Pierce

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Six Getty Images

    The Clippers want him, but they have other, larger concerns.

  7. Reports: Warriors, Hornets both interested in Marco Belinelli

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:16 PM EDT

    belinelli AP

    It’s a deep pool of shooters in free agency.

  8. LeBron James wants Mike Dunleavy on Cavaliers, more likely gets Mo Williams

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    Mo Williams can still score, he’d be a good pickup for the Cavs.

  9. Report: Greg Monroe to meet with Knicks, Lakers, Bucks, Blazers to start free agency

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:03 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Monroe finally has the free agency he turned down a lot of cash to get.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (4248)
  2. D. Wade (4126)
  3. J. Embiid (3678)
  4. L. James (3497)
  5. K. Love (3030)
  1. K. Bryant (2904)
  2. D. Cousins (2892)
  3. J. Butler (2495)
  4. T. Harris (2432)
  5. K. Durant (2327)