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Can the Grizzlies score enough to win a title?

The Memphis Grizzlies are contending once again, and still flying under the national radar.

In 2014-15, the Grizzlies appear stronger than ever. After posting consecutive 50-win seasons in 2013 and 2014, Memphis is already over that mark and could be headed for the franchise record in victories, aiming to break the previous record of 56.

However, the deafening question surrounding the Grizzlies remains the same; can this group score enough to win a championship? Vegas seems to think they have a solid chance, getting the fourth-best odds to win the NBA Finals along with the Atlanta Hawks at 12/1.

Located in the beautiful yet understated city of Memphis, the Grizzlies are a throwback to an age before high-flyers and volume scorers without defensive prowess dominated the league. Memphis is a tough team, one of the best defensive teams we have seen since the Ben Wallace-led Detroit Pistons. It is a group which has been in the playoffs in each of the past four seasons, only advancing to the conference finals once.

Between Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, Memphis has the best interior in basketball. Both Gasol and Randolph are tenacious defenders, with Gasol winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013. Offensively, the duo has combined to average more than 34 points and 18 rebounds per game, providing head coach Dave Joerger with tremendous comfort.

The larger question for Joerger and his comrades is whether the guards and small forward spot can contribute enough against the likes of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. Memphis has a stud point guard in Mike Conley Jr. but not much else in the way of scoring, with Courtney Lee, Vince Carter and Beno Udrih in the guard rotation. At small forward, Tony Allen and Jeff Green are serviceable but neither provided a solid wing presence to help space the floor.

The bench is a weak point compared to some of the other top Western Conference contenders, further complicating matters for Memphis. The Grizzlies can’t afford to get into foul trouble or have an injury which sidelines a rotational player for a series. Some of the other contenders have more room for such issues, but Memphis is without a safety net.

Overall, the Grizzlies are middling at 17th in points per game and superb on defense, allowing the second-fewest points at 95.2. Memphis’ offensive rating points to it as mediocre, with stats such as shots per point and field goal percentage having it around the top 10.

Ultimately, the Grizzlies appear to be an improved offensive club. Can they maintain that offensive efficiency against the best the league has to offer? It remains to be seen. One thing is for sure: the Grindhouse will be rocking this spring.

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