JR Smith kept his name in the headlines on Friday
The Memphis Grizzlies are currently doing a number on the San Antonio Spurs in the First Round of the Western Conference Playoffs. While some picked this as a possibility, I doubt many thought is was a probability. The Grizzlies have taken a 3-1 series lead today by annihilating the Spurs 104-86 at FedEx Forum. Without arguably their best player Rudy Gay, this team put together a slightly above average 15-10 record post-All Star Weekend. Interestingly enough though, Memphis did play San Antonio three times during this stretch, winning both games played at FedEx Forum.
There’s no doubting now, staring at a 1-3 deficit that the Spurs dynasty may realistically be nearing an end. One wonders what the next move will be for them if the are in fact eliminated in five games by the Grizzlies. Again, I think most thought they were a chance to be eliminated before the Conference Finals this season but perhaps by Oklahoma, not Memphis.
The thing that intrigues me most about these Grizzlies is their definitive lack of fear while also seemingly understanding the importance of every “moment”. A lot of teams in a lot of different sporting codes over the years have made unexpected trips to Playoffs or Finals series and while they try their hardest, they simply fall short due to what we all refer to as “experience issues” or “nerves”. This Memphis team has not stopped for a second to feel romantic about just making the Playoffs, they’ve put their head down and set about destroying one of the classiest and well-drilled teams in the business, and a Number One seed to boot!
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are way too much for Tim Duncan and Co to handle, out-rebounding and out-hustling the Spurs on most possessions. Mike Conley is making Tony Parker’s life a living hell, practically outplaying him in the same fashion and Manu Ginobili playing though injury is admirable but simply not enough to carry this aging team.
Just on Ginobili, while he annoys the daylights out of me with his unorthodox play, one has to tip their hat to him for his freakish ability on both ends of the floor. When Manu can do the things he does as one of four fully firing players, the Spurs have been amazing. However, as the lone ranger, again, it’s not enough.
By spreading the workload across multiple high energy players, the Grizzlies have successfully been “first to the punch” on most plays throughout the first four games. Big rebounds, big shots and big hustle plays against a tired and old Spurs outfit.
While I’m not 100% sold on a 4-1 result at this stage, I would certainly expect the Grizzlies to finish this off in Game Six on current form. What a fantastic result that would be for a team who only a week ago won their first ever Playoff game as an eighth seed.