(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
On Saturday night, the Memphis Grizzlies, in front of an electric home crowd, roared to a stellar start then withstood every rally thrown at them by the San Antonio Spurs. Zach Randolph's game-winning three likely wasn't the exact play coach Lionel Hollins had scribbled onto the white board, but the Grizzlies had earned the right to be a little fortunate at the end. While the conclusion was incredible, a little stunning and, pretty simply, awesome, the fact that Memphis is heading into Game Four tonight looking to grab a 3-1 series lead sounds just about right when you look at how this series as gone so far.
Being up 2-1 on the Western Conference's number one seed in the first round may read as a little off-kilter, but as this match-up goes, it all comes down to, well, the match-ups. Just as the Golden State Warriors had the right amount of athleticism and veterans who didn't give a shit about the seedings, Memphis has the bodies to just pound away on the Spurs inside, Mike Conley is making life difficult for Tony Parker in a way only someone with the quickness to rival Parker can, and of course, you have vets like Randolph and Tony Allen, who provide the confident-in-any-situation lifeblood that flows through this team.
While this success so far is unmatched in Grizzlies' history and that is not forgotten, nobody seems to be in much awe when it comes to what is happening on the basketball court. The Grizzlies stand shoulder-to-shoulder with these Spurs and they're forcing a style, a way of basketball that is controlling the flow of this series so far, and San Antonio, at times, seems as though they're just trying to save par.
That said, when it comes down to it, these teams are simply as ridiculously close to even as you will find, especially in a 1-versus-8 playoffs series. This is, of course, why tonight's game means so much. No, we shouldn't really be all that shocked at how things have gone so far, but we should be enjoying it. Winning a playoff series is hard work, and as the eight seed playing against the Spurs, the pressure is only going to mount. Eight seeds don't get this opportunity all that often, and even if it feels like they should be here, Memphis will begin to battle history as well as San Antonio.
The Grizzlies are halfway there. Tonight is a big step toward unforgettable.