As it turns out now, the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs will finish the final first round pairing in the NBA playoffs tonight. Most of that falls on the league's scheduling department, of course, but -- and this rings especially loud following Wednesday's thrilling, excruciating Game Five -- this almost had to be the final series left to be decided, because it's the most insane.
I mean, if it weren't meant to be, this thing would be over already. What the Grizzlies nearly pulled off on Wednesday, to almost survive all that went down, to survive all of their own questionable offensive possessions, all the additional "challenges" provided courtesy of the officiating crew, and San Antonio's earnest, quick start and overall desperation; well, it was actually pretty ridiculous they were even in a position to win with two seconds left.
They didn't, obviously. It wasn't in an understandable or at all conventional way, either. That loss was brutal, and that's about all you can say about that. Still, it was only so devastating a loss because the Grizzlies somehow never let the atmosphere or things they couldn't control get the best of them completely.
Which brings us to tonight, and why it's probably best to simply prepare for all that is wrong to occur. Prepare for what's left of Richard Jefferson to hit 5-of-6 from deep. Prepare for Tiago Splitter to provide the depth behind Tim Duncan, just in time. Prepare for Gary Neal and Manu Ginobili to throw shots in from everywhere, as the clock's winding down. Prepare for it all.
We know, we've seen it in large doses over this five-game stretch, that at this time, in this series, the Grizzlies are the better team. The majority of the match-ups on the floor are either so downright advantageous or have performed to or above the level of their Spur counterparts that, following the initial dejection that will come with losing a terrific playoff basketball game by two seconds, a Game Six at home didn't feel so bad. Every game takes on its own life in the playoffs, and there's no real reason -- outside of faux-psychology -- to believe Memphis won't feel just as comfortable against the Spurs as they have all series.
But we should prepare for the worst because, as perfect as things were rolling in the second half of Game Four, Game Five reminded us that this won't -- it can't -- be easy. That last push off the ledge necessary to finally send the Spurs home for good will be the most difficult, and sometimes, no matter how much is fought through, there's just one more game that needs to be played. It's a confirmation of sorts, a double-check to make certain that, yes, the Grizzlies have made it through the proper rigors, and their time is now.