Grizzlies-Bobcats Preview

The Associated Press

The Memphis Grizzlies are back in the playoffs, but they want to advance further than they did last season.

The bar is set much lower in Charlotte.

Memphis' push for home-court advantage in the opening round of the postseason continues Friday night when the Bobcats try to end a franchise-record 18-game losing streak with their fifth straight home win in this series.

After making the playoffs last season for the first time since 2006 and winning their first-ever postseason series, the Grizzlies (37-25) clinched another playoff spot Wednesday with a 103-91 victory over Western Conference-worst New Orleans.

Memphis, though, is not satisfied with just being one of the top eight teams in the West. The Grizzlies have their eyes on a bigger prize after knocking out San Antonio in the West quarterfinals last season before pushing Oklahoma City to seven games in the next round.

"We have high expectations for ourselves," guard O.J. Mayo said Wednesday after scoring 15 points. "It's obviously the highest of expectations is to win a ring. Last year, we could just be happy to be there. This year, we definitely have a different focus. And we feel like we're supposed to be there."

The question now is where Memphis, which has won 12 of 16, will open the postseason. Currently fifth in the West, the Grizzlies have an outside chance to move up a spot if the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers fall.

While the Grizzlies prepare for what they hope is a deep playoff run, the lowly Bobcats' only hope is to win one of their final five games to avoid the worst winning percentage in NBA history.

If Charlotte (7-54) can't win another game, it will finish with a winning percentage of .106. The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers went 9-73 for a .110 winning percentage.

"We don't want to set that record," guard Gerald Henderson said after the Bobcats lost an 18th straight game Wednesday - 100-68 to Chicago. "That's something that we're thinking about and we've talked about. We just want to win. That's my sole goal."

But if the Bobcats are going to avoid that dubious distinction, they'll likely have to start shooting with more accuracy. They shot a season-low 29.8 percent against the Bulls, surpassing a mark set two nights earlier (30.3 percent) in a 75-67 loss to the Hornets.

"That's been our problem all year," said Bobcats coach Paul Silas, whose team is converting a league-worst 41.4 percent.

Charlotte, though, has hit 48.8 percent while winning six of eight against Memphis.

The Bobcats won 96-82 in the Grizzlies' last visit to Time Warner Cable Arena on Jan. 10, 2011.

Memphis forward Rudy Gay, who finished with 13 points in that defeat, is scoring 24.5 per game - 5.4 more than his season average - over the last eight contests overall.

"I'm going to keep going out there and being aggressive," Gay said. "That's what I do. I'm a scorer by heart, and you can't score without shooting."

Memphis, 14-18 away from home, closes the road portion of its schedule Friday.

The Bobcats have dropped 11 in a row at home since a 107-103 victory over Toronto on March 17. That was also Charlotte's last win anywhere.