Memphis Grizzlies' loss to Bulls highlights harsh reality

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The Memphis Grizzlies are thought of as a smart organization. And their 21-5 start, sitting behind only the red-hot Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference, is evidence.

They don't have the big names of teams like Cleveland, Dallas, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, the L.A. Clippers, Houston or Golden State, so the question is how long they will be able to hold onto their spot?

Earlier in the season, Memphis stayed relatively healthy. But with Zach Randolph and Tony Allen short-term injury issues, they will begin to fall back to the pack.

Both were expected to miss Sunday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In reality, they are more like the seventh-seeded team they were last season than the No. 2 seed they are currently. Not that there's anything wrong with going 50-32, which would have put them as the No. 3 seed had they been in the Eastern Conference last year.

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What's going right?

Marc Gasol has emerged from his brother Pau's shadow as one of the NBA's best big men. The former Memphis private-school star is averaging 19.6 points, 7.3 boards, 3.7 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.

The Grizzlies had a big week last week, beating the Warriors and Spurs, but fell to the Bulls on Friday night.

It was their first loss to an Eastern Conference team this season and the first since falling to the Bulls on Dec. 30, 2013.

''Tonight was a game where we didn't have enough effort due in large part to very tired legs,'' Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. ''The minutes have added up on us.''

What won't continue?

Gasol didn't have a great game on Friday, but he should remain a force and offensive threat.

The problem is how little depth they have and how little they are getting off the bench.

If anything happened to Gasol, Mike Conley or long-term to Randolph, they would have a difficult time making up for those points.

They just don't have the stars that some of the top teams have and – when it comes to a playoff series – it's hard to imagine a team like that will be able to stick it to a team like the Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, Rockets or Thunder (if they even make the playoffs).

That's a long time off, but it's also a much different animal than winning a regular season game.

For my money, the Grizzlies are a great story but I don't have much faith in them overall.

Memphis Grizzlies
Southwest Division
Western Conference

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