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. Anthony Davis “definitely” plans on shooting more threes this season

    Aug 29, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    If he develops a consistent three-point shot, it’s over.

  2. You can own Michael Jordan’s original uniform from Space Jam

    Aug 29, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    space jam

    Owning this may be better than seeing Space Jam 2 with Lebron James, if that project comes together.

  3. Jim Buss defends Byron Scott as Lakers coach, “He has the Laker blood in him”

    Aug 29, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    He’s a coach, a brother.” — Lakers’ co-owner Jim Buss on Byron Scott

  4. Friday night video fun: Best hustle plays of 2014-15 season

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game Five Getty Images

    It’s not a coincidence you see stars like Chris Paul, LeBron James, Tim Duncan and Russell Westbrook in a highlight package like this.

  5. Kenneth Faried excited to see what Emmanuel Mudiay will do in Denver

    Aug 28, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT

    USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp Getty Images

    It is going to be a rough year in Denver as they give the keys to the offense to a rookie point guard.

  6. Charles Barkley remembers “gentle giant” Darryl Dawkins

    Aug 28, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT

    NBA House - Moynihan Station 2015 Getty Images

    Charles Barkley talked about how he never found Dawkins in a bad mood — he was always jovial.

  7. Nets’ Bojan Bogdanovic rolls ankle readying for EuroBasket, says he’ll be fine

    Aug 28, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets - Game Four Getty Images

    It shouldn’t linger into training camp if he doesn’t aggravate it.

  8. Jim Buss heaps praise, hope on young Lakers

    Aug 28, 2015, 1:44 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers Draft Picks Press Conference Getty Images

    What did you expect he would say?

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2290)
  2. L. James (1961)
  3. K. Irving (1814)
  4. K. Bryant (1766)
  5. A. Davis (1531)