Blog Entry

NBA Playoffs Grizzlies-Spurs: The joy of one

Posted on: April 17, 2011 5:35 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:14 pm
Memphis wins first playoff game in franchise history as unlikely heroes come full circle. Oh, yeah, and there's a whole series in front of them.

Posted by Matt Moore

Joy comes in the morning . The Memphis Grizzlies entered the postseason 0-12 in postseason play. They walked out of the AT&T Center in San Antonio with a 1-0 series lead and their first ever franchise playoff win. 

It would be really easy to put this win in terms of the culmination of questionable moves the franchise has made, the history of failure and how far the team has come in getting one measly win in a playoff series. A win in series in which they are a considerable underdog to the very model of a small-market franchise that has won four NBA championships in the past ten years. 

I will do so now. 

The Grizzlies won behind two huge efforts from their frontcourt. Zach Randolph led the way with 25 points. Randolph was acquired ina  trade from the Clippers for Quentin Richardson. At the time, it was considered terrible, since Randolph was known as a locker room cancer who never won anything. Instead, he became the Grizzlies' first All-Star since Pau Gasol, and, on Sunday, did what he does: create shots underneath the basket where there's seemingly no room to create one. Without a legit player with length underneath, Randolph was able to create slight tip-ins. Throw in some poor defense by DeJuan Blair, and you've got a big day for Randolph.

In one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history, the Grizzlies traded their All-Star Pau Gasol for the expiring contract of Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, and the rights to Gasol's brother Marc who was playing in Spain. Randolph gets all the attention, and rightfully so. But Marc Gasol is as big a part of what the Grizzlies do as any player. He's a tremendous defender, both down low and on pick and rolls. He shows hard on screens and recovers, runs off mid-range Js (as he did Sunday), and has a wide offensive repertoire. While Tim Duncan was taking him one on one in the post in the first half, Gasol was getting his own, and wound up outscoring Duncan 24-16.  Anyone have that figured to start the day? 

Memphis made a series of terrible decisions in trading a first-round pick for Ronnie Brewer last season, then renouncing his right as a restricted free agent. They then used that money to acquire Tony Allen, another player with questionable skills and reputation, who wound up with a huge fourth quarter. Allen was plagued by foul trouble, but still managed to have an impact on the game with a series of gritty late-game defensive plays and some key buckets. 

The Grizzlies nearly traded O.J. Mayo at the deadline before the deal fell through and they got the trade request in too late. Mayo had 13 points off the bench. 

Memphis signed Mike Conley to a 5-year, $40 million contract, and were blasted for it. Mostly by me . (I made amends later after Conley continued to show his improvement, though the decision at the time was still irresponsible). Conley had 15 points and 10 assists and actually held his own offensively against Tony Parker (defensively, it was a different matter). 

The list goes on and on.

Then there's this. The Grizzlies drafted Hasheem Thabeet, one of the biggest busts of the decade with the No.2 overall pick in 2009. They had to send Thabeet along with a pick just to get rid of him. Houston took him on, in exchange for an expendable veteran defender who can hit the occasional 3-pointer. The Grizzlies got Shane Battier

Seems like a lot to make out of a Game 1 win when Memphis is just as likely to get blasted in the next four games, especially considering Manu Ginobili's absence. But, for a franchise trying to establish some level of legitimacy and momentum, it's a big deal. They won that first playoff game, and now have stolen homecourt advantage from the No.1 overall seed. This series looks long, it looks physical, and it looks exciting. And for the first time in franchise history, Memphis fans have to feel like they actually have a shot. 

You want some perspective on this? How about Manu Ginobili's absence? The Spurs' best element today was drawing fouls against a perimeter Grizzlies' defense that couldn't stop a drunken toddler from getting into the lane and resorted to just beating them up. The Spurs shot 15 more free throws than the Grizzlies, and hit 15 more. When Ginobili returns in Game 2, as he probably will, that number may actually increase. Ginobili and Parker are two of the best at drawing fouls (and some would say flopping). There may actually be dents in the AT&T center hardwood if the pattern from Game 1 keeps up.

The Grizzlies won despite only forcing 10 turnovers and losing the turnover battle. The Spurs were deliberate with their attack, and while the Grizzlies did succeed in forcing the Spurs off the 3-point line, outside of a handful of Richard Jefferson threes and two Matt Bonner bombs late to make everyone forget how terribly, terribly awful he was in guarding Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies outshot the Spurs by 12 percent, holding the Spurs to 40 percent from the field... and only won by three. That's a bad sign. 

If the Grizzlies don't figure out how to keep the Spurs out of the paint on the drive, or not foul them every single time they do enter, they're going to go down in flames. They gave up 29 free throws to George Hill and Tony Parker. That may seem like an outlier that won't hold. Given Memphis' style, it's likely not an outlier. 

But at the end of the day, Memphis did what they've done all season. Find a way to beat a better team by grinding it out, making big shots, and playing remarkable defense. For a day, it was good for a win, the biggest in franchise history. 

Since: Nov 18, 2009
Posted on: April 18, 2011 8:48 pm

NBA Playoffs Grizzlies-Spurs: The joy of one

What happened to all the Spurs fans who were commenting on the series preview article??  Oh I guess they are at home figuring out how they shot 47 free throws, scored more in the paint, did not turn the ball over, out rebounded their opponent and still lost.  I will answer it for them.  You got beat by a better team.  The Grizz did not play well Sunday, but they were still good enough to win on the road.  Imagine if we had taken the ball inside the whole game and the Spurs don't score 40 points from the free throw line.  Yea that is a 20 point blowout.  I would not be surprised if this happens in game 2.  I am excited we played that bad and still won.  Lets get the big guys involved from the beginning and let the offense flow.  

Since: Apr 2, 2008
Posted on: April 18, 2011 5:19 pm

NBA Playoffs Grizzlies-Spurs: The joy of one

When are people ever going to admit that the Pau trade may have actually benefitted Memphis?  Do you realize that Memphis, by trading Pau, freed up money to trade for Zach and we got the draft pick for Darrell Arthur, unsung hero, and Marc Gasol and also an underrated Hamed Haddadi.  What appeared to be a horrible trade at the time has actually worked out well for both teams.  Pau is soft and is perfect to play along with a superstar Kobe.  Pau, while extremely talented, was and is not the type of player to put a team on his back.  He needs another superstar and Memphis could not afford that with his max contract.  No one, except Chuck Barkley wants to give Memphis any credit.  We are missing, arguably, our best player in Gay and we are still one of the most sound defensive teams in the league and we are destroying teams inside.  Most teams cannot match up with our strength inside and with three (3) players who are EXCELLENT defensive players in Allen, Conley and Battier, we are a tough draw for anyone in the playoffs.  I am not saying we will win the series, but, at least don't try and discount what we accomplished this season, with and without Gay and what we will accompish in the playoffs.  Go Grizz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and go to hell Matt Moore!!!!!!!!!!!

Since: Mar 6, 2011
Posted on: April 18, 2011 12:48 am

NBA Playoffs Grizzlies-Spurs: The joy of one

man, matt moore just cant admit he was wrong. WRONG about Conley. Wrong about memphis. This is just a stunningly stupid article but typical of Matt Moore. Memphis was great today. Charles Barkley called it.  Conley has been epic all year and Hollins drew up a pretty great game plan. Add to that Zach Randolphs game and memphis have to be considered favorites.  First off, Ginobelli will play but wont be 100%.  With him SA would be tough, no question, but hardly a lock.  Battier is one of the best defenders in the NBA.....not a cast off veteran. Does Moore know ANYTHING about basketball? (no, wait, i already answered that.. He doesnt).  Props to memphis. A great win and super day for zach and conley and the little gasol.

Since: Jan 24, 2008
Posted on: April 17, 2011 11:39 pm

NBA Playoffs Grizzlies-Spurs: The joy of one

Gator, great post.  Maybe this is the same guy who put Memphis on the "most miserable cities" rankings based on crime stats from six years earlier.  Once a critic decides a city (or a franchise) is no good, they'll dredge up whatever old news they have to.

Since: Jan 24, 2008
Posted on: April 17, 2011 11:32 pm

NBA Playoffs Grizzlies-Spurs: The joy of one

Assuming Ginobili comes back before the Spurs get in an even deaper hole, who's to say he'll be 100%? 

And what's with this idea that Memphis played at their best and San Antonio at their worst?  The Memphis played FAR from a perfect game.  They were completely out of sync in the 3rd.  They committed too many dumb fouls on non-scoring plays and had all their stars on the verge of fouling out.  They nearly blew the game on four straight clanks at the line and then allowed Bonner to hit not one but two 3s right after Hollins screamed at them to watch for the 3.  The Spurs aren't the only team that has things to work on for Game 2.

San Antonio is a talented, tough, experienced, extremely well-coached team.  But this Memphis team now has the "winless in the playoffs" monkey off its back and isn't under any pressure at all.  Look for them to come out loose, confident and hungry on Wednesday.

Since: Jan 24, 2007
Posted on: April 17, 2011 10:50 pm

Moore-Just Shut Up!

Not one mention of Rudy Gay-every bit the equal of Ginobili and MUCH Younger and taller! He will not play in this series but the Grizzlies are on their way. Grizzlies have what NO other team has-TWO presences in the paint! Grizzlies LED the league in points in the paint. They play team defense and have TWO players that can cover the Bryants,Durants,Wades,etc on Battier and Allen. The Grizzlies are a better team than you get them credit for. They match up well with SA. I would not be surprised if they win this series.

Since: Apr 17, 2011
Posted on: April 17, 2011 9:47 pm

NBA Playoffs Grizzlies-Spurs: The joy of one

could not have said it better gator...most of these "writers" take the easy way out and just use outdated ideas they pick up from their buddies..

Since: May 22, 2009
Posted on: April 17, 2011 8:36 pm

NBA Playoffs Grizzlies-Spurs: The joy of one

This writer seems conveniently ignorant of the due fact that Memphis pulled off this victory without arguably their best player, Rudy Gay.  Of course no one expects him back for the playoffs, but the team's performance in light of his absence is certainly an indicator of their legitimacy- likely for years to come.  I believe Mr. Moore could have chosen several slants on today's outcome, but chose to evoke the Grizzlie's history of incompetent decision-making to rationalize the only sentiments a Memphis fan should have- hope and redemption.  In fact, this is old news, Mr. Moore, as the fan base now feels they have a team that can compete for division titles (and more) in the future.  At some point you keep beating "better teams" because you either are or will be better.

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