Tonight, the Grizzlies are in Oklahoma City to battle the Thunder in a do or die Game 7. Memphis, as a franchise, has never won a Game 7, and if they are going to do so tonight, they must do it without Zach Randolph who, as we all know by now, has been suspended for one game for having his fist make contact with Steven Adams' face during Game 6. Fellas, this one is going to be tough.
Memphis blew it's best chance to win this series, twice, and both times at home. As a result, they now have to face a Thunder team, sporting an adjusted lineup, without their All-Star power forward, with Mike Conley nursing a sore hammy, and with momentum firmly on the other side. If you're a betting man, the smart money is most definitely on Oklahoma City.
So what are we supposed to do? Are we expected to just pack it in and go home? Should we concede the game? Are we supposed to turn down? After all this? Turn down for what?! (pun)
Sure, we're a couple men down, guys are hurting, and we may not have the talent to match up with the other guys; but that's the Memphis way. We're not the sexy option, and we aren't the front-runners. This is a city of underdogs who fully understand there's nowhere to go but up when you're face down on the ground. This team has always been an embodiment of the city, and now, they need to prove it again.
Memphis doesn't do anything easy, and going into Oklahoma City and knocking out the league MVP in a decisive Game 7 without their leading scorer would be just about the most Memphis thing they could ever do.
Keys to the Game
Survive and Advance: That's it for this one. One game to decide who moves on and who starts looking for beachfront condos in Maui, and all you have to do is survive. Memphis has been asked to regroup and retool for long stretches without Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, and they were able to tread water. This task isn't nearly as difficult when compared to that. All Memphis has to do is survive 53 48 minutes of Hell in Oklahoma City. One win. That's it.
I've been talking to everyone with an opinion about the Grizzlies over the last few days, and there's been a recurring theme I've heard from a good number of those people, and that sentiment is this: It's been a disappointing season.
It has been. Last year, we won 56 games, and made it farther than any other Grizzly team has ever been. We signed Mike Miller in the offseason, and were primed to be one of the top 5 teams in the league. Then, as my man Gandhi would say, the funk hit the fan.
Lethargic start, Gasol injury, Allen injury, piss-poor defense, struggles winning at home, Pondexter lost for the year; the universe threw everything at the Grizzlies this season, and this rag-tag crew of misfits overcame every bit of it. This season didn't look the way we wanted it to, or the way we thought it would, but regardless of the obstacle, the guys in that locker room didn't care. They merely got out on the court and went to work.
So go ahead, count them out. This team has been counted out multiple times this season, and they just don't care. They keep bouncing back, they keep overcoming, and tonight, they will do it again. One more time, baby. Survive and advance.