The Memphis Grizzlies might actually lose the second seed in the Western conference playoff following another home loss, this time 92-83 to the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards are still trying to somehow move up from fifth in the East and get themselves at least one round of home court advantage, in all likelihood facing the Toronto Raptors. They made the most of a very sluggish offense and especially the inability of the Grizzlies to make a 3-pointer happen, shooting just 1-of-15 from beyond the arc.
So yeah, Jeff Green had that dunk happen. But Green scored just 9 points and continues to be one of the more interesting cases around the league of a player that is unable to bring his talent on offense at a consistent level to help out his team. And Tony Allen wasn’t playing, so without Green doing anything something special offensively beyond that one impressive dunk, he was really of no help at all.
The Wizards weren’t exactly scorching from the outside and even their leading scorer, Bradley Beal, shot 0-for-6 from downtown. Beal scored 20 points but it was John Wall’s energy and vision that made the difference, finishing with 18 points and 14 assists. Mike Conley might be the best defensive point guard in the league on most nights, but he had a hard time keeping up with Wall.
The Grizzlies defense wasn’t helped with so many 3-point misses, creating a lot of opportunities for the Wizards to run on the open floor. Drew Gooden got plenty of good mid range and long range looks to finish with 16 points while Rasual Butler (yes, he’s still in the league) added 10 from the bench. Otto Porter Jr. scored just 7 points but provided some excellent defense to slow down Green, maybe the biggest X-Factor for the Grizzlies.
It’s hard to get a read on the Grizzlies right now. Many consider them to be the favorites in the West because of their defense and improved offense, but they’ve done very little in the last two or three weeks to convince everyone that they’re ready to actually make the leap from tough playoff team into an actual, serious contender. Obviously, regular season losses can be misleading, but a disturbing trend is emerging.
As for the Wizards, playing without Nene in this game, they’ve shown too many weaknesses over the last couple of months to be taken too seriously. Sure, anything can happen in their first round series with the Raptors and the Hawks are more vulnerable than they let us believe, but are the Wizards actually contenders like we thought they’d be when this season began? Probably not, although they have the potential to give anyone in this league a very hard time through a seven-game series.