It’s the time of the season where everyone is scoreboard watching in the NBA. The standings in both conferences are tight and changing by the day.
Even Memphis Grizzlies players and coaches are keeping a close eye on what’s going on while the main focus is on the team’s improvement.
On the Grizzlies’ practice court inside the FedExForum, the Western Conference standings are placed on the wall and updated daily.
“There was a period of the year I wasn’t looking,” Jaren Jackson Jr. said. “There was just no need game-to-game. Maybe every like four or five games, I’ll look. You keep an eye out on it.”
“I look at it probably every few days to see where things are shaping out and all that stuff, but I’m not looking at matchups or ‘Oh, we’re going to be this seed or that seed,’ ” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “I just kind of like to see what the competition is doing, checking out scores and knowing who is playing really well because that’s a big factor coming down the stretch.”
The Grizzlies (45-22) are the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, but the lead is as small as it can get. The Golden State Warriors
And don’t count out the Utah Jazz. They are three games behind the Grizzlies and Warriors entering Friday’s games, but only two in the loss column. Utah (41-24) has matchups with the Warriors and Grizzlies remaining.
Memphis has the 20th toughest schedule remaining, according to Tankathon’s remaining schedule strength. From injuries to schedule strength and more, let’s take a look at how things are moving around the Grizzlies.
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Golden State Warriors: The Warriors have been struggling and just ended a five-game losing streak streak with back-to-back wins over playoff contenders. The best news for Golden State is that Draymond Green announced on his podcast that he’s targeting Monday against the Washington Wizards as his return date. Tankathon has the Warriors with the 12th-toughest schedule remaining.
Utah Jazz: Utah has the seventh toughest schedule left. The Jazz are 5-2 since the All-Star break and are forming a rhythm after a tough January. Utah went 8-1 in February, but the tough schedule may prevent them from catching the Grizzlies and Warriors.
Dallas Mavericks: A first-round matchup with Dallas could most likely happen in a three seed versus six seed scenario. The Mavericks (40-26) are half a game up on the Nuggets for the fifth seed. Since Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans arrived from the Kristaps Porzingis trade, the Mavs are 7-2. Only half of Dallas’ 14 remaining games are against teams projected to make the playoffs.
Denver Nuggets: Denver is right on the Mavs’ trail and two games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nuggets (40-27) are the biggest wild card of potential Grizzlies opponents. Reports have indicated that both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. could return this season. Adding those two with reigning MVP Nikola Jokic could make for a scary scenario. Denver has the 10th toughest schedule remaining.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Don’t look now, but the Timberwolves have the NBA’s longest current winning streak at six games. They are also 2-2 versus the Grizzlies. As the seventh seed, the Timberwolves (38-29) would have to win a play-in game against the eighth seed, or jump to the sixth spot to face the Grizzlies. Minnesota has the eighth toughest schedule remaining.
Los Angeles Clippers: Meeting the Clippers would be the most unlikely case. With the fourth-toughest remaining schedule and 3½ games behind the seventh-place Timberwolves, the Clippers (35-33) would have to beat the seventh seed in a play-in game to face a second-seeded Grizzlies. While the Nuggets could be the biggest wild card, the Clippers aren’t too far behind. The franchise has been quiet on the potential returns of Norman Powell, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but all three at least seem like a possibility.
Contact Damichael Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @damichaelc