Grizzlies at Spurs, First Round, Game Two: Another Door Opens.


As all the dust completely settles on the Memphis Grizzlies' Game One victory in San Antonio over the Spurs on Sunday, the franchise's first, sealed with a dagger three by the organization's decided figurehead of the first ten years, Shane Battier, it would appear easy to believe that it can't get much better than that (Unless Mike Miller were somehow involved). With these Grizzlies though, there's no reason to assume a 1-1 split is anywhere near their collective thought bubble. It probably never was.

......

 

Memphis won't be smelling a couple droplets of blood in the water in San Antonio tonight because Manu Ginobili is again listed as doubtful (though that certainly doesn't hurt), or even because they overcame some late-game follies at the free throw line and Matt Bonner to get a road playoff win against one of the foundations in today's NBA. In fact, the Grizz probably wouldn't even need Game One to know that two straight roads wins over the Spurs isn't out of the realm of possibility, but boy, you have to figure they'll be going into Game Two feeling pretty well in regards to how their brute, at times frenzied, way of going about things holds up against the Spurs. Now they have postseason evidence.

Aside from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph -- who are receiving due praise for their continuous punishing of the San Antonio interior, Gasol was particularly focused on being a major part of the offense -- and Tony Allen, who could be on the verge of hitting another level in NBA Heart and Soul/Drink-Stirrer lore, Mike Conley and the Memphis bench (O.J. Mayo did EXACTLY what the Grizz need him to do as an offensive energizer) also showed up large; Conley can make things difficult for croissant-loving Tony Parker, at the least making him less effective a point guard and disrupting the Spurs' offense.

But still, aside from the incredible individual Grizz performances, it is the collective, wonderful obliviousness with which this team plays that makes one think they could go up 2-0 tonight. The late free throw clangs are worrisome, yes, but they've also happened before this season. Sometimes bad shots go up, yes, but those have gone up earlier in the year as well. These guys make their share of mistakes, but they always come up with something else. They never seem to panic or abandon ship; they just bring the ball up, fly through passing lanes, and keep hammering away, at times seemingly unaware of any bigger-than-the-game story-lines until the game is over. 

This is to say: There hasn't been a moment that has looked too big for the Grizzlies yet. The run to the playoffs was handled and actually left them in control in the end, and while Game One was tight, it was nothing Memphis hadn't seen or been apart of before, especially with the Spurs. They know this stuff. They get key contributions from everywhere on the roster at different times. Everyone chips in with aggressive defense and fills the offensive sets around the paint, where Randolph and Gasol set up shop. Whether they should be or not, the Grizzlies don't seem fazed by any of this.

Game Two will be another step above any previous situation that Memphis has encountered this season. The Spurs will have the air of desperation and a like-minded crowd behind them. They'll still have the higher seed and expectations, and they'll be looking to even this series up as it heads to Tennessee, whatever it takes.

The Grizzlies know all this, but they probably won't be paying attention to any of these things. They will, however, be ready for a fight. That's just normal for them. Even in the playoffs.

 

 

**For Game Two coverage on the Spurs, visit Pounding The Rock.

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