Tag Archives: Memphis Grizzlies

Non-conference update: The West wins another week, plus a look at their non-conference games left

It was another winning week for the West, going 15-8 against the lowly Eastern Conference where only Indiana and Miami have more than 10 wins in non-conference play. The West has won 12 of the season’s 14 weeks so far with 12 to go.

Here’s the updated week-by-week breakdown:

Last week, Milwaukee continued to struggle in non-conference play as they went 0-3 and are now 1-16 for the season. It also didn’t help for the East that Indiana and Miami, the only two teams to have a non-conference record over .500, both lost games against the West on their home courts. It’s a good thing the Pacers won’t match up with Goran Dragic and the Suns in the playoffs. Miami and Oklahoma City, on the other hand…

The Milwaukee of the West is looking to be the Lakers, who are getting beat up by the East lately when just about every other Western team uses non-conference games as a standings-padder. Only Sacramento comes close to having as bad of a non-conference record, who are 5-9 while the Lakers are 7-13. It’s unlikely Sacramento stays that bad when they can play six more games against the East.

Speaking of games left against the East, in my opinion it’s a decent argument to use when looking at which West teams will make the playoffs. Here’s a breakdown of that too:

I thought about including a table for the East, but Miami and Indiana are on a crash course to meet in the Conference Finals. The first round matchups for them should be snoozers.

Of course, non-conference games don’t say everything about the rest of the NBA schedule. Back-to-backs, home vs road games, and the strength of the remaining games are all key too. As you can see though, even without Mike Conley the Grizzlies should tread water just fine when they play five more non-conference games than Dallas. Meanwhile, the Chris Paul-less Clippers might regress after capitalizing on an East-heavy schedule the last few weeks.

Of course, teams with extra non-conference games still have to play and win them versus just giving them the W, but so far the West has had a historical upper hand this season.

The Texas Triangle and its neighboring franchises

A week ago, the Portland Trail Blazers finished their first road trip through the Texas Triangle since 2007, playing consecutive games on the road against the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets. They survived, which is always a question when teams travel to the Lone Star State for three games over a handful of days. Portland even had a chance to sweep after impressive wins over the Spurs and Mavericks, but they couldn’t muster enough defense to contain a Rockets squad, one that was missing Terrence Jones.

Overall, Portland finished a respectable 2-1. So too did the New York Knicks, who finished their trip through the Texas Triangle three weekends ago.

At least a couple teams each year (2.8 to be exact since 2000) play a combination of the Mavericks, Spurs, and Rockets in consecutive games with the results often disastrous. 42 trips have been made through the Texas Triangle since 2000 with 17 ending in three straight losses. Only nine finished with two or more wins with two leaving with a sweep: the 2002 Sacramento Kings and 2008 Boston Celtics. Since 2000, teams are a combined 30-96 against the Texas Triangle, good for a winning percentage of 28.6.

Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of their performance against the three Texas teams since 2000, when the West became the premier conference. (Any feedback on how that table looks is appreciated. Trying something new here.)

You might notice some teams missing from that table, specifically six from the East and four from the West. The Bobcats have been lucky enough (especially in 2012) to not slog through a road trip in Texas. Miami last went through the Texas Triangle in 1996 while Cleveland, Indiana, Philadelphia, and Toronto all went through it in 1997. For the West, Denver last took the trip in 1991, Phoenix in 1993, Charlotte/New Orleans in 1997, and the Lakers in 1998. The Lakers actually swept the Texas Triangle that year without Kobe Bryant for all three games, though Dallas was significantly weaker back then. They had neither Steve Nash nor Dirk Nowitzki and finished the season 20-62.

You might also notice the franchises neighboring Texas avoiding the daunting road trip. A factor that impacts scheduling in general, some teams go through the Texas Triangle more or less than others because of geography. Memphis, Oklahoma City, and New Orleans haven’t made the trip since moving from Vancouver, Seattle, and Charlotte, respectively. Also, like mentioned before, Denver and Phoenix haven’t made the road trip in over 20 seasons.

That’s a nice edge to have over the rest of the league, especially for the Grizzlies who went through the Texas Triangle four times in their final two seasons in Vancouver. Another benefit comes from the teams closest to Texas often included in road trips featuring the Mavs, Spurs, and/or Rockets. Portland finished their road trip not with the Texas Triangle but a road loss to Oklahoma City, and from March 7 to March 14 they’ll have another road trip of Dallas-Houston-Memphis-San Antonio-New Orleans. Had New Orleans not been rattled by injuries, the road trips to the that region of the league would only be more brutal than they already are.

Sure, that also means the Southwest Division is more competitive than others, but it’s more of a problem for the entire West with how each team plays each conference foe at least three times per season. Had divisions led to Dallas, Houston, Memphis, New Orleans, and San Antonio playing each other six times instead of four, then there might be a problem. 

Right now there just isn’t any other area like Texas and its neighbors just north or east of them. A west coast trip often has Utah or Sacramento to capitalize on. The northern, central area of the league has Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Detroit to feed off of. The entire Atlantic Division has been a mess this year while the southeast has Orlando and Charlotte in rebuilding mode. New Orleans is the only weak link of the south, but they could luck into a top-5 pick next year and already hold one of the best young prospects in Anthony Davis.

A recent history of kicks to the face

In case you missed it, Chris Paul got a shin sandwich from Tony Allen last night:  

Searching through YouTube (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you view it) led to only a few more instances where this has happened. What I found though showed different variations of how a face becomes full of sneakers.

The Ninja Closeout 

Bruce Bowen kicking Wally Szczerbiak in the face is arguably the most popular of them all, which is pretty impressive since it happened in 2002. There was no YouTube or Twitter, but 24-hour coverage of sports existed. That’s all it took for Bowen’s reputation as a chippy defender to take off.  

The “Big Boot 

Tyson Chandler gives a big boot to Damion James in a 2011 pre-season game: 

With the running start, this had to be just as painful as Bowen’s or Allen’s, not to mention Chandler’s shoes are probably a few sizes larger than a perimeter defender’s.

Accidentally On Purpose Whoopsy Daisy

Tony Parker gives Shane Battier a little extra after drawing a blocking foul: 

Whether it was on purpose or not, Parker acting dazed after the kick brought me back to the days of my freshman dorm, where my roommate’s alarm went off every five minutes for an hour straight. This happened every morning before class at 8 a.m., that is until one day I couldn’t take it any more and flung a pen at him. I still remember the “thunk” it made when it ricocheted off his head, making it sound way more painful that I intended. Regardless, I proceeded to act like I was asleep. It was terrific. I never heard his alarm go off more than once ever again. Good times, good times.

Honorable mentions: Mike Miller getting a face full of Danny Greens shoe during a loose ball in the same Finals, and Kevin Love stepping on Luis Scola‘s face.)

The Helpless Prop

This happened way too often in college, where a player after a pickup basketball game would be so overconfident in his leaping ability that he’d try and dunk over someone. 99 percent of the time it led to the prop getting a face full of crotch, a knee to the midsection, or a foot dangling in the wrong place in mid-air.

Matt Bonner was a victim of the latter during a slam dunk contest, though at least he was prepared for it:  

Which variation will be created next?

Gilbert Arenas will be the third-highest paid player next season

A player whose career arc I once compared to Myspace, Gilbert Arenas will be the third-highest player in the NBA next season; even though there’s a 99 percent chance he won’t play a single minute on an NBA court.

Also known as ‘Agent Zero’ or ‘The Hibachi’, the total amount of salary Arenas will earn next season will be $22,346,536 according to Hoopshype. It’s the last year of a six-year contract he signed with the Washington Wizards before the 2008-09 season. Knee injuries—and coming back too soon from them—prevented Arenas from performing up to the lavish contract.

One of the most explosive scorers in the league when healthy, Arenas last played in the NBA in the 2011-12 season for the Memphis Grizzlies where he played 17 regular season games and averaged 4.2 points. He also played in six of seven playoff games for Memphis, but shot just 25 percent from the field, totaling only four points. That’s a far cry from the 29.3 points Arenas averaged during the 2005-06 season, only to follow it up with 34 per game in the playoffs.

After his stint with the Grizzlies, Arenas signed a contract to play basketball for the Shanghai Sharks of the China Basketball Association (CBA). During the 2012-13 season in the CBA, he averaged 20.7 points in 27.3 minutes per game. 20.7 is also the career points per game average for Arenas during his 11 seasons in the NBA.

Kobe Bryant ($30,453,805) and Dirk Nowitzki ($22,721,381) will be the highest and second-highest paid NBA players next season, though neither trump Michael Jordan’s 1997-98 salary of $33,140,000.

Edit: Though Arenas didn’t play a single game in the NBA last season, he was still paid the fifth year of the six-year contract he signed in 2008, which was $20,807,922. That means he could make as much as $43,154,458 without playing a lick in the NBA in two years. Must be nice.

(via HoopsHype)

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