Originally posted on Crossover Chronicles  |  Last updated 4/11/12

Last year the Memphis Grizzlies shocked the NBA by taking down the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. This year there was some talk preseason that they might challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Western Conference title, but that faded when they got off to a slow start. It also didn’t help that one of their best players and last year’s big emotional leader, Zach Randolph, went down with an injury.

They were 13-13 at one point, but since then they’ve gone 20-10 and are now sitting in the 5-seed in the West. They’ve been able to avoid major injuries and are playing with a lot of momentum, winning 8 of their last 10, including wins over the Lakers, Clippers, Heat and Thunder.

Despite their recent success, the Grizzlies are flying relatively under the radar. They’re not really being included with the Spurs or the Thunder in the championship talk, but they have their sights set on the top half of the Western Conference playoff bracket.

“Being in the top four is definitely a reachable goal,” point guard Mike Conley said. “We’re right outside that spot. If we just take care of business and continue to get better and continue to win these tough games against these good teams we will have a great chance. The West is so competitive and as long as we stay focused and keeping it game by game I think we have a great chance.”

While I’m not ready to crown the Grizzlies the team to beat in the West, they could give some teams problems. Last year they beat the Spurs and pushed the Thunder to the edge. If they can get that same momentum going, they’re a very dangerous team. If they do get past the first round, they Grizzlies could be looking at a rematch with either of their last year’s playoff opponents. They’re even better this year, so that Grizzlies-Spurs or Grizzlies-Thunder matchup would undoubtedly be a great series to watch.

Realistically, any team in the West has a shot if the ball bounces their way, and that definitely includes the Grizzlies. The West is so stacked that we’re in for one hell of a postseason.

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This article first appeared on Crossover Chronicles and was syndicated with permission.

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