By Michael Wallace
Grind City Media
MEMPHIS – There’s a revamped supporting cast around Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. The basketball facilities and fan experience at FedExForum have been upgraded and enhanced. And 14 of the Grizzlies’ first 23 regular-season games are against teams that advanced to the playoffs last season.
What’s it all mean?
A highly-anticipated 2017-18 NBA season is on the horizon.
And Memphis better build momentum early in a much deeper Western Conference race if it intends to extend the league’s third-longest current playoff streak to an eighth straight postseason appearance. Now that the NBA’s 2017-18 regular-season schedule has been released, check out Grind City Media’s 10 most intriguing games as the Grizzlies march through the season.
Oct. 18, 2017 – Pelicans at Grizzlies:
For the fourth straight year, the Grizzlies open their season at FedExForum. This time, they face a Pelicans’ squad that had a full offseason and training camp for Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins to gel after ‘Boogie’ arrived at February’s trade deadline. Memphis is just 2-8 in its last 10 season debuts, but second-year coach David Fizdale aims to reverse that trend and go 2-0 at the helm on opening night.
Oct. 21, 2017 – Warriors at Grizzlies:
Finals MVP Kevin Durant and the defending champs make their only visit to the Bluff City on opening weekend. Last season, the Grizzlies played the Warriors tougher than anyone and split the four-game regular-season series. That included a Jan. 6 rally from a 24-point deficit on the road in an overtime win. Durant defined that setback as the turning point that forced the Warriors to regroup for their title push.
Nov. 18, 2017 – Rockets at Grizzlies:
Let’s just say familiarity might breed resentment by this matchup. Perhaps the most noticeable quirk on the Grizzlies’ schedule is that they face the Rockets four times in the season’s first 16 games. They’re done with the series against the new James Harden-Chris Paul tandem a week before Thanksgiving, which provides the Grizzlies a true early measuring stick against a projected top-three team in the West.
Dec. 1, 2017 – Spurs at Grizzlies:
Yes, it’s going to be very weird seeing former Grizz swingman Rudy Gay in that Spurs jersey. Beyond that, the Grizzlies also play host to the team that eliminated them in six games during the first round of last season’s playoffs. That series also brought the curtain down on the Core Four era of Conley, Gasol, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen. This is the second matchup in a three-day stretch between these teams.
Dec. 9, 2017 – Thunder at Grizzlies:
Reigning regular-season MVP and new triple-double king Russell Westbrook makes his first trip of the season to FedExForum with a revamped supporting cast, highlighted by the trade addition of four-time All-Star Paul George. With the future of both players uncertain after this season, OKC is going all in right now. It’s a regional rival the Grizzlies annually jockey with for playoff position in the ultra-tight West.
Dec. 31, 2017 – Grizzlies at Kings:
For the first time in eight years, Z-Bo will be donning the No. 50 for another city after signing a two-year, $24 million deal in free agency. Vince Carter also signed with the Kings. The Grizzlies’ post-Christmas west trip swings through Sacramento again on New Year’s Eve. It’s the first of three emotional showdowns between the Grizzlies and Kings, with the final two in Memphis on Jan. 19 and April 6.
Jan. 15, 2018 – Lakers at Grizzlies:
The Grizzlies reclaim their rightful place as a marquee team on the NBA’s slate of MLK Day games. The Lakers visit FedExForum amid the global buildup to commemorate the 50th anniversary of King’s death in 1968 in Memphis. The annual symposium and events surrounding the game make it one of the most vital dates on the sports calendar. Plus, Memphians get their first look at No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball.
Jan. 22, 2018 – Sixers at Grizzlies:
The Sixers have demanded we trust the process. After years of losses, lottery picks and injury recoveries, expect to see real progress. With Joel Embiid and the last two No. 1 picks in Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz presumably healthy to anchor an upgraded roster, Philly may be the NBA’s most improved team. It is still a should-win game in a must-win month for the Grizzlies, who play nine of 13 at home in January.
Feb. 23, 2018 – Cavaliers at Grizzlies:
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love skipped the return trip to Memphis last season after playing the Grizzlies the previous night in Cleveland. The league made it a priority this offseason to address these sort of scheduling and rest dilemmas. Still, the Cavs are scheduled to return from the All-Star break with their lone trip to Memphis on the second night of a back-to-back set. Barring an injury, LeBron’s gotta show this time, though, right? RIGHT?
April 6, 2018 – Kings at Grizzlies:
If the season plays out according to some national projections, the Grizzlies will be battling for one of the final playoff spots in the West this time of the year. And that means every game could have major postseason implications. If that wasn’t enough, Z-Bo’s return with the Kings to face his former team in the next-to-last, regular-season home game should push the intensity at FedExForum through the roof.
Grind City Media breaks down the Grizzlies 2017-18 regular season schedule
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Michael Wallace are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.