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The Three Stages of Grief for the Memphis Grizzlies

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The season will be over soon, and Memphis Grizzlies fans have come to this point at different stages and at different paces.

Stage 1- Denial.
Stage 1- Denial.
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Stage One- Denial. Some Point Before the Series Began.

A sweep? Seriously? Have you not been paying attention to this team the past five seasons? What kind of a fan of the Memphis Grizzlies are you? Not only are you a blowhard blogger, Mullinax, but you also have your priorities mixed up.

Yeah, they're bruised and battered. Yeah, Jordan Farmar and Chris Andersen continue to start for Dave Joerger despite the fact they probably shouldn't be playing NBA minutes for the Sixers, much less the Grizzlies. And yeah, the Spurs are ridiculously, historically great.

So what? We've got Z-Bo.

Yeah, Zach freaking Randolph. Forget about him? This dude sliced and diced the Spurs five years ago, and he can do it again...

But that was against Antonio McDyess...this is LaMarcus Aldridge we are talking about.

Antonio McWho? What about him? He's not on the Spurs anymore, dummy, stop trying to change the subject. Aldridge is good, but Zach can hang with him.

Anyway, as I was saying before your stupid face interrupted me, Zach Randolph is going to crush the Spurs, just like he did before...

This Spurs team collapses on him in the post when Memphis is healthy. What are they going to do now? A lot worse.

Again with the negativity! They aren't going to be able to collapse on him once Farmar, Matt Barnes, and Vince Carter start cooking from range! Add in Lance Stephenson and you have the potential to create some problems for San Antonio. Those young guys are going to give their bench all sorts of problems too, those minutes during the season are going to pay off!

While it was good the younger guys got some run, when it comes to that translating in to wins against San Antonio I just don't see it. I love the enthusiasm, but this is the best Spurs team of all-time. When healthy, San Antonio probably would be favored in five, maybe less. This broken team finished the regular season 3-14. I see it ending at 3-18.

Whatever. Just don't try to say you "Believe Memphis." You don't really, I read your silly attempts at hopeful blog posts, but you're not fooling me buddy.

That's a bit harsh. "Believe Memphis" isn't thinking they will win every game to me, it's believing in a philosophy and embracing it as a team and city. Winning has come with that in the past. It just won't this time...

That's fine. Just make sure your next Friday Three is about how dumb you are and how wrong you were. Keep trying to trade Zach and loving Jeff Green, you stupid idiot.

Sigh...

Stage Two- Depression. Sunday through Tuesday.

I know what you're thinking, Mullinax, just say it...

It wasn't about being right, trust me, I would rather have been wrong...

No, you love this. This team is imploding before our eyes and on national television and it is crushing my spirits. Zach is struggling so much this series-

8-30 from the field. 8 FOR 30!!! What has happened to Zach?

Is it possible he is the focus of the best defense in the NBA and isn't as good as LaMarcus Aldridge? Or that the Spurs are executing the same schematic philosophy against him that they have been for years now? Maybe it's the fact that he is being asked to be the best player on the team, when he at his best should be a third option?

It also is possible that he isn't getting much help...at ALL. The shooting percentages of the players who are taking seven or more shots per game so far this series is proof of that.

Name Regular Season Shooting % Playoff Shooting %
Zach Randolph 47.5 26.7
Xavier Munford 41.6 26.3
Matt Barnes 38.1 22.2
Lance Stephenson 47.4 44.4
Jordan Farmar 42.4 29.4
Tony Allen 45.8 43.8
JaMychal Green 46.5 42.9
Vince Carter 38.8 57.1

Only one player outperforming regular season averages. One. And that one is Vince Carter, the oldest player on the roster, who clearly cannot do it on his own.

We're watching the end of Zach and the team at large, and it is just awful. They would've been better off not making the playoffs at all and having that draft pick leave this season.

It's risky business to project draft classes so far out. Maybe the 2017 pick would be better, maybe it wouldn't be. The Grizzlies are currently pick #17 in the draft coming up, their best position in several years, and they now have resources to trade up if they so choose after the Jeff Green and Courtney Lee deals. They could also perhaps trade back if a player falls someone else likes. More options are always a good thing, and they have that now.

That doesn't help them in this series, though. The games move to Memphis this Friday, and they are about to be obliterated in front of their hometown crowd. I wonder how many people will even show up. Dave Joerger's starting lineup is broken and any change he makes likely won't make a different.

That will be interesting to see play out. Jarell Martin or JaMychal Green starting for Chris Andersen would be nice, but as you said, it isn't like that is going to win them a game. Season likely ends Sunday.

Sigh...

Stage Three- Acceptance. Present Day.

You know Joe, I had an epiphany...so much is made of the history that Golden State and San Antonio made this season, and rightfully so...but the Memphis Grizzlies made history this season as well! The first team in NBA history to play 28 players and make the NBA Playoffs! It isn't a playoff run or a banner, but that is certainly worth something, isn't it?

Of course it is. These players have not quit and continue to fight to the finish of this season, whenever it may be, in the face of tremendous adversity. They just don't have the horses to run with the San Antonio Spurs.

This season has had its lows, but I am excited for the games this weekend. It probably won't be the same as when Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are healthy, but that civic connection to the Grizzlies is real. Especially Friday night in Game 3, the atmosphere should be awesome. Marc and Mike gave away tickets, which is awesome of them, and have you seen what the Growl Towels will say for the game yet?

"Believe Memphis", right? Pretty fitting...

Yeah, you said that meant something more than believing in playoff wins. I think I agree with you now. You can't just flip a switch of a winning culture. What the Grizzlies have established in their six year playoff run really is special and has adjusted the way the NBA looks at Memphis and their team. They aren't the door mat they were before; they are respected, they are looked at as an organization of status. That means a lot.

This series is not an indictment on Dave Joerger, or Chris Wallace, or any of these players with regard to their effort. They are doing everything in their power. They have added helpful, youthful pieces. Guys who wouldn't have played much have gotten opportunities, and every player currently on the roster is playing out of role. The team losing is not a surprise.

That doesn't belittle what this roster accomplished just by getting in to the playoffs, though. This Spurs team is phenomenal. They are worthy of praise, but so are the Grizzlies. Hopefully Memphis applauds them for their efforts when the season ends (likely Sunday).

I will be one of those cheering them on. This off-season will have a ton of questions, but the city of Memphis will take ownership of their Grizzlies and support them inside "The Grindhouse" a couple more times before it ends. These Grizzlies will go down in a blaze of glory, starting in Game 3, and Memphis will have their back every step of the way.

Just as it has been before, and as it will again. The music of Beale Street, the drumline playing, the chants and the lights and the pyro, and the name on the front that matters more than the ones on the back more than ever before...

Sigh...

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Check out previous Friday Three articles here.