People ask me all the time, and by people, I of course mean my 12 year old brother, what would be more special to me: a championship for the Atlanta Braves, or the Memphis Grizzlies. While it is true that the Atlanta Braves will always be my sports soul mate, the Nasim Pedrad of my sporting life if you will, my answer is always Memphis. This is my city, and I love it, and I love the people in it, and I love being able to share the Grizzlies with everyone. Last night, as I closed my tenure as a season ticket holder, I received even more support for my answer as the Grizzlies won an overtime thriller against the Dallas Mavericks.
In what was dubbed the "Avoid the Spurs" bowl, both teams displayed their full repertoire of strengths and weaknesses as each team desperately battled for the seventh seed.
Zach Randolph, who is officially in full fledge playoff mode, scored 27 points and had 14 rebounds, and Mike Conley and Marc Gasol helped pace the offense with 22 and 19 respectively. Getting 60+ points from those three guys is going to be imperative for the Grizzlies going forward into the playoffs.
Game Notes from the Legend-wait for it-Diary
- Did anyone else have flashbacks to Game 3 against the Spurs last year? Poor free throw shooting causing us to go to overtime, and then getting down early in the bonus period? I won't lie, I had ‘Nam like flashbacks.
- I'm assuming Joerger was saving Gasol to guard Dirk Nowitzki for the final quarter, and that's why he didn't matchup with him earlier in the game. Even when Zach Randolph was attempting to cover him while Gasol held down the 6'8 DeJaun Blair. Gasol did a phenomenal job against Dirk, and that strategy worked this time, but it makes me incredibly nervous for the OKC series.
- There was a young child, maybe 10 or 11 years old, sitting in front of us, and tonight was either the first time he'd seen a pretty girl, or the first time he'd seen dancing and it awakened something inside of him. Thrice his mom had to stop him from repeatedly taking pictures of the Grizz Girls, and his face lit up like a kid on Christmas morning while they were dancing. There will be an incredibly awkward conversation in his not too distant future, and I'd love to be a fly on the wall for it.
- Every Grizzly reserve was a negative in the +/- tonight, including Ed Davis who was -13. Not really fair to judge Ed off that number, because he was asked to guard Dirk, which just isn't fair.
- Tony Allen was in full fledge trick-or-treat mode tonight. Grabbing huge steals, getting charges called on him, and even checking himself out of the game causing Memphis to take a timeout. The Grindfather is amped for the playoffs, take note Kevin Durant.
- Kids, you have got to make your free throws.
- Our season seats are right in front of Monta Ellis' aunt, and last game, my brother forgot and met Monta with a rousing chorus of boos, much to her displeasure. Nothing but love during the intros for Monta tonight, and even more after he missed that game winner.
- I believe the Mavs ran the high pick and roll with Dirk and Monta on their first six possessions in overtime, and Memphis could do nothing to stop it. Thank God we aren't playing the Spurs.
- The win moved Memphis to 3-9 against Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston on the year. Here's to not seeing another Texas team until next season!
The win helped the Grizzlies lock down the seventh seed, and improved their record to 50-32 on the year. 50 wins on a year that saw Gasol miss 23 games, Jerryd Bayless get traded, Nick Calathes get booed for entering a game, a former lottery bust get called up from the D-Leauge steal the hearts of the entire fan base and then create a rift between it on how much he should play. Been a heck of a season, boys and girls, and it ain't over yet. The Grizzlies overcame everything the universe could throw at them and they clawed their way to 50 wins. Now, they'll get a couple days off to regroup and collect themselves before putting it all back on the line to try and win 16 more. All heart, grit and grind.