Memphis was at full strength for only one of those games, and that was way back on Nov. 2, when the Grizzlies were stumbling out of the gates at the beginning of the season.
The Mavs had the good fortune to face the Grizzlies while Memphis was missing one of its stars in the other two meetings. Center Marc Gasol missed the Grizzlies’ Dec. 18 loss in Dallas. Point guard Mike Conley sat out when the Mavs won at FedExForum on Feb. 5.
“This time around, they look like a playoff team,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s going to be a tough game. That’s all right. The more tough games we can play headed into the playoffs, that should help us. We’re going to have to be ready.”
The Grizzlies have had to be one of the best teams in the league since the calendar flipped to 2014 to earn a playoff spot in the West. Memphis was 13-17 on Dec. 31, including 10-13 without Gasol. Since then, the Grizzlies are 36-15, with only the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers posting a better record in that span.
That includes a franchise-record-tying 13 consecutive home wins, a streak that started immediately after the Mavs’ last visit to Memphis.
With the seventh seed at stake, the Mavs know they’ll get the Grizzlies’ best shot this time around.
“We know who we’re playing and we know what they do,” Mavs sixth man Vince Carter said. “I know it’s a big game, plain and simple.”