The Grizzlies' surprising run has finally come to an end, after losing Game 7 of their second-round playoff series against the Thunder on Sunday. The loss wasn't, shall we say, perfect, yet it's hard to argue against the idea that the best team won. Remember, we were the 8th overall seed, while the Thunder were the team who last season nearly brought the Lakers to their knees and entered the 2010-11 campaign as one of the league's title contenders.
Mess with Kevin Durant, you get the Thunder!
I wrote about the pending "bounce back" performance by Durant after his horrific showing in Game 6. I knew it would be good, but wasn't ready to predict it would be epic. Durant is/was/will be the best player to come from this series. He is the world's best scorer and well on his way to being an all-time great. OK, I'll save the warmth for our friends over at Welcome to Loud City, who have done a fantastic job covering Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the pack. But this post isn't about the Thunder. It's about the, nay, our Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies didn't have the horses to run with the Thunder in Game 7; A Thunder team who was playing at its absolute best. Each Thunder player was at the top of his game, save for Serge Ibaka. They each played their role--from Nick Collison doing the dirty, to Harden providing the offense off the bench, to Eric Maynor running the second unit, to Westbrook playing a contained game, etc. We could go on.
There was very little to like on the Grizzlies end. Mike Conley played well, providing most of the early offense. Yet, Tony Allen was horrific, especially on offense, Shane Battier probably played his worst game in years, O.J. Mayo didn't come alive until the second half, Marc Gasol wasn't so tough off the glass, Sam Young killed us on offense, Darrell Arthur provided little punch, Greivis Vasquez played poorly... We could go on.
Game 7 aside, this was a terrific season and fantastic run by a Grizzlies team who many had pegged to bow out on the first round against the Spurs. After they knocked off the mighty Spurs, most thought the well would run dry with the Grizz losing in 5 games to the Thunder. The Grizzlies prevailed, however, and pushed their playoff run further than anyone outside of the greater Memphis area imagined.
Now we look forward. The praises continue to come in from NBA fans across all markets, talking about how the Grizzlies play the game "the right way" and our "future is bright." Think about what it would have been like were we able to bring a scorer like Rudy Gay into that Game 7 matchup. He would have been able to stop the offensive drought...Ah, let's not go there. But, yes, we get Rudy Gay, an All-star caliber player, back next season to go along with a developed bench and a defensive stopper at our disposal. The future is indeed bright for the Grizzlies, and it's almost fitting that a young Thunder team knocked us out of the playoffs. You know, the same team who we were all fawning over during the playoffs last year.
I said it yesterday, and I'll repeat it again this morning: keep those heads held high. The Grizzlies have nothing to feel bad about. Sure, they were grossly outplayed on Sunday by the Thunder, but they took the loss like a team who knows they'll be back next season. This wasn't one of those runs where the offseason looks bleak.
As you grit and grind your way through this somewhat gloomy Monday, keep your head up, Memphis. It was the start to a great run.