Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Mike Conley didn't play against the Clippers last night because, when it comes down to it, the Memphis Grizzlies are just more comfortable with a first round playoff tussle with the San Antonio Spurs rather than the Los Angeles Lakers. Now, they'll get to see if that made any sense.
It's the pairing many Memphis fans likely prefer to the Lakers; the only "risk" of sorts in essentially baiting the Clippers towards a victory was the possibility of a Dallas Mavericks win/Lakers loss combo, which would've put the playoff-shaky Mavs in the second position and a mere win away from the Grizz.
Alas, this situation didn't pan out, and the Grizzlies are now left with exactly what they seemed to have wanted: The San Antonio Spurs. Memphis will be confident heading into this series after splitting the season series with San Antonio, 2-2, in games that were often close throughout. We've seen that Memphis matches up pretty well with the Spurs across the board, and experience is a huge factor; or more importantly, the Grizzlies' ability to ignore it and its connotations.
Many are already looking back at that game earlier this week against Portland and wondering why Memphis didn't go for the win, didn't go for the sixth seed. Was rest that important for Randolph and Allen's postseason success? Time will ultimately tell if that rest and being less-than-subtle in regards to their wishes for the Spurs will pay off or not. I still remain a little confused as to why they didn't go for it, but we'll see what happens, and hey, it's not the Lakers; that's something I think we can all be happy with for now.
Manu Ginobili's health will probably be a major storyline before the series tips off on Sunday, but for the Grizzlies it's all about taking that confidence in their style to the postseason. The Spurs have experience and depth, they know Memphis as well as the Grizz know them, and they know how to grind out playoff wins. The Grizzlies can't match the auxiliary stuff or the Spurs' mystique, but as they've shown this year, they can play with San Antonio between the lines. Memphis already knew that though; they put themselves here after all. Like they usually do, the playoffs will sort out what, and how much, all the elements really matter.
Stay tuned. There's more to come on the playoffs, of course.