The Grizzlies (51-24) had dropped to third on Sunday, but capitalised from the Houston Rockets’ 99-96 defeat at Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
Home-court advantage matters, and the Rockets and Grizzlies – and perhaps Portland – are set for a dogfight for the second place with less than eight regular-season games remaining.
Although the Rockets and Grizzlies wrapped up the season tied at 2-2, Memphis lead Houston by a game, while the Golden State Warriors already clinched the Conference.
Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Joerger epitomised the team’s determination: “We all feel this is our year to make the most noise we have ever had,” he said after Tuesday’s win over Sacramento.
The Grizzlies won six of their last ten games, but they can’t hide the effects of playing 22 games in 37 days.
Therefore, the Grizzlies and their Big-3 — Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph — have never had such a supreme chance of progressing in the playoffs.
After all, this is the best season in the franchise’s history.
The Grizzlies had finished fourth (41-25) in the West in the shortened 2011-12 season, but fell in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers.
When asked about the team’s rotation heading to the post-season Joerger insisted his team has been playing very hard.
“We are in the situation where we are playing Jeff (Green) as power forward, and how the rotation works out for minutes wise, who can guard who. We continue to need shooting.
“We just need to get our efficiency on the defence and offence. We had some breakdowns on the defence end. It is not that we are not trying hard. We just can’t figure out how to get out it right now.”
The Grizzlies will host Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.