The Memphis Grizzlies have accomplished much this NBA season, having survived the in-season loss of their superstar to another team and being rebuilt, reformed and reborn as a team.
They ended the season with their highest seed for the playoffs. They defeated one of the hottest teams in the West (Los Angeles Clippers). They defeated last year's Western Conference Champion and favorite to repeat this year (Oklahoma City Thunder). And they defeated both of these teams without having home court advantage.
They made it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history. They have successfully gone from the "laughing stock" of the league to most NBA analysts giving them a legitimate chance to make the NBA Finals.
They beat the Los Angeles Clippers. They sent the Oklahoma City Thunder home packing. But after a Game 1 meltdown in the Western Conference Finals, it appears the Memphis Grizzlies may have big-time problems with the championship-savvy San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs came out firing against Memphis, setting a quick pace en route to a 105-83 romp at the AT&T center. Attacking the rim and making shot after shot from the outside, the Spurs kept an unbreakable grip on the lead throughout the entire game.
San Antonio raced to a 17-point lead in the first quarter. An although the Grizzlies cut the lead down to six during a stretch of the second half, there just wasn't enough consistency to derail the Spurs' juggernaut.
Big Boy: street ball terminology meaning a person (or persons) who can completely and totally dominate a game in the paint.
In one of his biggest games of the playoffs, Zach Randolph put up "big boy" numbers, with 28 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 88-84 to win the NBA Western Conference best of seven, second round series 4-1.
A bandwagon of NBA analysts agrees that very few teams have the size to play the slow, methodical, half-court offense/defense that the Grizzlies claim as their own.
Kevin Durant walked down the court at the FedExForum with both hands covering his face. He sensed that the one thing he and the rest of his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates set out to do in Memphis was about to become an unfulfilled goal.
They'd set out to retrieve at least one win in Memphis. That didn't happen.
In an overtime win on Monday, the Grizzlies defeated the Thunder 103-97, taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.
At the end of any Memphis Grizzlies win at the FedExForum, this familiar song can be heard blaring loudly across the sound system: "Whoomp! (There it is)."
The song, made popular by rap artist Tag Team, relates precisely to what the Grizzlies did in their 87-81 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday to take a 2-1 series lead in this Western Conference Semifinal.
The Grizzlies used every form of "tag teaming" possible in the win.
Consider these examples:
Grit ... grind ... thou name is the Memphis Grizzlies!
After a heart-breaking loss in Game 1 that easily could (and probably should) have the Thunder down 2-0, the Grizzlies responded with an impressive 99-93 victory to even the best of seven series at 1-1.
Led by the steady hand of Mike Conley, who was one assist away from a triple-double with an impressive stat line of 26 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, the Grizz were determined not to let another late lead disappear. Marc Gasol added 24 points and provided a major presence in the paint that Oklahoma City just could not match.
The pool of retired and revered coaches recently made room for one more – Coach Jerry M. Johnson Sr.
Former students, players, family and friends gathered at the Marriott East Hotel on April 27 for a retirement dinner and gala in Coach Johnson's honor. The celebration noted his 42 years of service in education and coaching in Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools.
Coach Johnson started his coaching career at Wooddale Junior High, coaching football and track. His teams won championships in both sports.