Found December 04, 2012 on Beyond The Whistle:
Six weeks into the 2012-2013 NBA season and the Miami Heat are sitting atop the Eastern Conference at 12-3 -- as if this comes as a surprise to anyone -- but what many basketball fans may not have expected was a first place, 12-3 Memphis Grizzlies team that is poised to make the playoffs for a third consecutive season.Of course it is very early in the season and 15 games is hardly enough of a sample to measure the quality of a professional basketball team, as the risk of injury is the first and biggest obstacle any team must overcome in order to achieve any relative amount of success. However, there are reasons to believe the Grizzlies could make it tough for the usual suspects in the Western Conference like the Spurs, Thunder and Lakers.    After losing to the Los Angeles Clippers on opening night, Memphis bounced back to win eight games in a row while beating the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks all in a row. It is worth noting that all three teams have a combined record of 36-11 prior to tonight's games and none of the teams are lower then second place in there respective conferences (as of 12/4/12). You would think a team that totally missed on  Hasheem Thabeet, who the team selected number two overall in the 2009 draft would be behind the winning curve, but that is not the case for Lionel Hollins' squad. Much of the teams success is largely due in part to their formidable front court tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, not to mention the contributions of veteran point guard Mike Conley and the teams leading scorer Rudy Gay who rakes in 18.9 ppg, tied for 15th in the NBA. Last season the upstart Grizzlies finished fourth in the western conference -- albeit in 66 games-- with a record of 41-25. Memphis is no stranger to postseason as they attempt to make the playoffs for the third straight season. Two seasons ago, during the 2011 postseason, the Grizzlies became the fourth eight seed in NBA history to defeat a one seed, who happened to be the San Antonio Spurs in six games. In their most recent playoff run however, the team was eliminated in first round by the LA Clippers after seven hard fought games.  The teams core has now been together for four seasons and went out and bolstered there bench with the additions of Jarryd Bayless and Wayne Ellington in the off season. The teams top four players in Gay, Randolph, Gasol and Conley average 66 combined points per game and the teams emphasis on defensive will only bode well for them. Fans in Tennessee may have a bigger reason to look forward to the future as the team was bought by 34 year-old billionaire Robert Pera in October and the regime of often criticized owner Micheal Heisley comes to an end. 
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