Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies would like to think the first perfect 8-0 preseason in the franchise’s history will carry over into the regular season.
It certainly would help.
The Grizzlies are 2-13 all-time in season openers and 3-12 in home openers. They did pull off a rare opening win over Orlando to open the 2008-09 season, though that season ended in a 24-58 record.
But these Grizzlies are coming off a 40-42 record with all five starters back for only the second time in team history. They open tonight against the Atlanta Hawks in what’s being billed as a “Beale Street Blue-Out” trying to build excitement for a team whose last postseason appearance was in 2006.
Coach Lionel Hollins doesn’t think anything from the preseason counts now.
“We have to start building numbers again, and that’s just the way it is. No matter how badly you played or how well you played, you now start from scratch (Wednesday) night,” Hollins said.
All-Star Zach Randolph thinks the Grizzlies will see some benefit from the preseason when Hollins was able to give his reserves plenty of playing time. He said winning all eight preseason games did get the Grizzlies to what he called a “good feeling place.”
“I think it should carry over to the games,” Randolph said.
The Grizzlies spent training camp and the preseason working on defense. They finished seventh in the NBA scoring 102.5 points per game last season. Unfortunately, opponents scored 104.0 points — putting the Grizzlies 24th in the league in points allowed.
Memphis finished fifth in defense in the preseason, and Hollins noted his bench outscored their opponents’ bench every night.
“I think we have made strides,” Hollins said. “Our younger guys have gotten better. That’s always the key in this league is the development of players. You have so many young guys, they come in with notoriety and they come in with talent. But from a fundamental and skill level and understanding how to win, it has to be developed.”
That includes players like Darrell Arthur, who missed 50 games with a pectoral injury last season.
“You can tell by the way he played in the preseason. He’s improved. He’s healthy, and the guy can run. He’s strong and can shoot the basket and post up. I’m expecting a lot of things out of Darrell,” Randolph said.