I am fortunate to work with such a talented group of writers here at GrizzGrind for many reasons. Chief among them is that everyone has a different niche, each of which complements the overarching mission. For me it means someone else is usually writing game previews, recaps and weekly reviews, leaving me free to try to offer you all some “big picture” perspective. Today, we’re going to look at the stretch run and what is at stake for the Grizzlies.

As of this morning, April 4, 2013, the Grizzlies are 51-24 and five games back of the first place Spurs. Denver is also 51-24 and five games back. The Clippers are 50-26 and six-and-one-half games back of the Spurs. Interestingly, however, this means that as of this morning the Western Conference seeding looks like this:

  1. Spurs
  2. Thunder (1.5 GB)
  3. Denver (5.0 GB)
  4. Clippers (6.5 GB)
  5. Grizzlies (5.0 GB)
  6. Golden State (13 GB)
  7. Houston (14 GB)
  8. Lakers (17.0 GB)

The die-hard among us already understand this quirky seeding. Let me explain it for the rest of #GrizzNation. Until a few years ago, the division winners were guaranteed the top three seeds, regardless of whether they had better records than other Western Conference teams. This caused a problem because it occasionally resulted in the team with the 2nd best record drawing the 4-seed and pitting the two best teams in the conference semi-finals, rather than the conference finals.

In order to try to fix this problem, the rules were changed so that the division winners are only guaranteed one of the top 4 seeds, but assigned based upon overall record. Therefore, if the season ended today, the Spurs, Thunder and Clippers would be guaranteed one of the top 4 seeds, but Denver would be above the Clippers because they have a better record. Now this is where things get a little weird.

The fact that the division winners are assured of a top 4 seed impacts the matchups, but not home-court advantage. That is to say that regardless of seeding, the team with the better record gets home-court. As it stands today, the Grizzlies would technically be the 5th seed, but would have home-court advantage in a first-round matchup with the 4th seeded Clippers. 

If we were to pass Denver, we would get the 3rd seed and a probable first-round matchup with Golden State. Merely catching Denver will not be enough, however, as they hold almost every conceivable tie-breaker against us. The likely worst-case scenario would be for the Clippers to pass Denver, moving Denver to the 4th seed and forcing us to play a first-round series with the Nuggets with Denver holding home-court advantage. Both of these scenarios are unlikely considering the teams remaining schedules.

So worry not, #GrizzNation. We control our own destiny for home-court at this point. We have a two game advantage over the Clippers in the loss column with seven games remaining, and get to play the Clippers at FedExForum on April 13. If we take care of business, particularly in the head-to-head matchup with the Clippers, we are in a strong position to start the 2013 playoffs at home, even if we are the 5th seed. Perhaps most importantly, unless either the Clippers or Grizzlies catch the Nuggets (a daunting task), it looks like we will get a rematch of last year’s matchup with the Clippers.

All that matters now, however, is the next game, when the Grizzlies do their part to help the Lakers miss the playoffs.

Grind on, Memphis.