The above is a quote from Tony Allen -- really, who else? -- following the Memphis Grizzlies' beatdown of the New Orleans Hornets in Memphis on Sunday. It was a win that, by itself, turned out to not mean all that much playoff-standings-wise due to the Hornets' better division winning percentage.
HOWEVA. Shit is literally changing as I type, making this a perfect time to once again try and make sense of it all, doesn't it? There are plenty of ifs from the second seed on down in the Western Conference, so it's a good thing Allen's words are purely of the hypothetical type, because if ifs truly were fifths, I'd be typing this post with my forehead.
Jump like a grizzly over a hornet.
Okay, to begin, Sunday's win was one of those "total team efforts" you hear about from time to time. These last two games will be pretty easy for coach Lionel Hollins to navigate from a minutes standpoint if everyone who plays adds a positive contribution or four. Nobody played thirty minutes and the Grizz beat a playoff team by 22. We can live with that.
Aside from how well the entire Memphis unit looked, it was hard to decipher what we could actually take from this one in the bigger picture at the time. Had the game been closer later things might have been different, but one suspects that New Orleans knew of their tiebreakers over the Grizzlies and opted for the rest angle.
It appears now though that New Orleans may have opted for the half-awake, half disinterested angle last night as well, losing to the Utah Jazz at home by 12 and opening the door for the Grizzlies to drive this bus home, because now, should the Grizz win in Portland and Los Angeles to close the season, they will snare the sixth seed.
That's about all we know for sure. The one thing that does appear more certain however is that the Grizzlies will now have a bit of a say in terms of their first round opponent. If there is a secret plan in place -- not that anyone in that locker room would admit it -- the opportunity to implement said strategy has presented itself. Problem is, all the possible fluctuation between the second, third and fourth seeds could make this a near-impossible task using anything short of giving Leon Powe a portable TV and headset on the bench.
If Sunday is any indication, it appears that Hollins will indeed give the big minute players a little reprieve before the playoffs start. But again, because everyone played so well it's hard to say for sure that that plan would've remained in place had the game gone differently, had the bench not performed as well or the Hornets a little better.
Dallas is the current two seed and the unofficial Top Four Team You Want to Play in the First Round, so of course the seventh spot doesn't look so bad at the moment, but something will again change before the end of this regular season. You know it won't be that easy. This is all going to come down to the wire, making the Grizzlies' matchmaking powers a little less valuable until further notice.
Which is why, for now, as the Grizzlies ready themselves to face a Portland Trail Blazers team in a hostile environment, the little things remain the most important; the defense, the continuity, the confidence that have been steadily brewing during this postseason-clinching run. The circumstances aren't the same since the playoffs are now a lock, but the need to try and keep the ball rolling as best as possible remains just as vital.
Win in Portland tonight, and from there Memphis can see where everyone else stands. It's the best of both worlds; to keep winning, keep fine-tuning that brand of basketball no one wants to see next week while at the same time staying in a position of power when it comes to where you'll be making hotel reservations.
As everything gets more and more muddled in the Western Conference -- before the eventual purification process on Wednesday night -- there's no use in worrying about anything other than the task at hand until you absolutely have to do otherwise. Tonight's contest with the Blazers happens to fall in both categories. So maybe for the Grizzlies, the best bet is to remain oblivious to their surroundings for one more night, then see what Wednesday brings. Playing well never hurts, and it sure beats trying to predict the fates of about five other teams. You'd probably have to be drunk for that anyway.
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