My freshman year of college I had this buddy who was a bit...funny. You know this guy; everybody knows someone like this. As we'd be getting ready to go out for the night, this guy would buttoning up his shirt and putting gel in his hair while his stereo blasted that really obnoxious Black Eyed Peas song "My Humps," (you can probably guess my age based on this) which, of course, he knew all the words to. While the rest of us were goofing around playing X-Box or talking shit about Adam Morrison or whatever, this guy would be singing along with Fergie and planning what pickup lines he was going use that night. The whole ritual was even funnier, and somewhat unsettling, considering that this friend had been an offensive lineman in high school and towered over the rest of us average-sized people. Although he almost inevitably struck out with the ladies (as it turned out, even freshman girls don't swoon for stupid pickup lines), he was still doing the same ritual week after week with an idiotic confidence that it was eventually going to pay off. I don't really think much about my freshman year, because I had even more fun when I was older and less of a moron, but the image of my buddy checking himself out in the mirror while mouthing the words to "My Humps" sticks with me. In fact, the older version of me actually admires how unflappable he really was. All of us Grizzly fans are feeling a bit desperate and more than a bit cynical at the moment, but instead we ought to emulate my college buddy's idiotic confidence.
Here's the thing: unlike my college pal, there's nothing idiotic or stupid about feeling positive right now. Sure, Memphis gave up yet another lead and lost Game 3, but there were a lot of good things to take away, even moreso than Game 1. Unlike the first game, in which Memphis shot the ball ungodly well, the Grizzlies didn't really shoot particularly well on Saturday (.400 from the floor as a team). Instead, the team kept the game close by playing solid defense and attacking the basket. Rudy Gay, a player who is normally content to launch contested jumpers, attempted 15 free throws. Until the fourth quarter, Zach Randolph got deep post position and drove to the hoop. Marc Gasol had his way with the Clippers' frontline. At one point in the second quarter, Memphis found themselves down 15 points. Rather than hang their heads (as a young team would be prone to do on the road), the team instead immediately rallied and made up the deficit before halftime. Forget that we lost for a moment, and remember how much adversity we had to overcome just to get within a point of tying that game.
There's even more reasons to feel positive going forward, namely one Blake Griffin. Obviously, he's public enemy #1 around Grizz Nation right now, but if you look past his points and field goal % (ironic coming from someone who normally focuses on stats, I know), you'll see a young player who is struggling to keep it together. He's been hit hard on both ends throughout this series, and the refs have generally done nothing to stop it. Yes, he's still getting his dunks and lay-ups because he's fast and athletic; however, during Game 3, the Grizzlies' defense on him was masterful. Whenever he got the ball, his defender bodied him up and didn't give him room to operate. You see, Blake likes to get a running start, but he's not so good when someone as big as Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol is pushing him back, and, more often than not, he was forced to pass the ball out simply because he couldn't do anything. This is all getting to him. That's why we saw the technical, the jabbering with Zach Randolph, the egregious flop that got Marc Gasol his 5th foul, and the stupid charge that earned Griffin a 5th foul of his own. Listen, I'm not trying to troll on Blake, and it's entirely possible that I'm just seeing what I want to see, but it's also probable that he does something stupid which costs his team the game.
Ultimately, remember this: if we win tonight, homecourt advantage shifts right back in our favor. Further, this Memphis team has faced adversity time and time again in the past 3 years, and has responded in the best possible way. So here's what I want everyone to do: act like my moronic college dormmate by firing up your favorite tunes, and get yourself pumped. Sure, your friends and family may think you're an idiot, but this is playoff time, which means completely disregarding public opinion. After you're fired up with positive energy, join in on the game thread as we rip these Clippers apart....or squeak by with a win. You know, whatever works.