Marc Gasol, the defensive anchor for the Memphis Grizzlies and the fulcrum of their offense out of the elbow, will return to the team’s starting lineup Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Gasol had been out since late November with a sprained MCL in his knee. No surgery was required, it was just a matter of time and rest. Gasol returned to practice this week and felt good enough after the one practice he went through to decide to play Tuesday.
Gasol averaged 16 points and 7.1 assists a game before the injury. He is also last season’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year and key to Memphis on that end. Not that Memphis was off to a hot start with him, they were 7-6 to open the season but have gone 10-13 since.
That record leaves Memphis as the 11 seed in the West, 3.5 games out of the playoffs. That’s a lot of work for Gasol and team to do to get back in the mix during the second half of the season — if 47 wins is what you need to make the playoffs in the West (the current pace) Memphis must go 30-16 the rest of the way to make the cut.