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.
However, as we all know, sometimes great accomplishments come with harsh reality checks. Unfortunately, for the Grizz, Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs was just that and then some. Memphis was welcomed to the world of the Western Conference Finals with a resounding 105-83 loss to a seasoned, more experienced San Antonio Spurs team, determined to avenge a previous playoff series loss to these same Grizzlies.
A dejected and seemingly tired Zach Randolph took the brunt of the blame for the loss.
Z-bo, Memphis' postseason leading scorer and All-Star, had a season low two points, missed seven of eight field goal attempts, and did not shoot a free throw in 28 minutes. The Spurs game plan to suffocate and smother Randolph with double and sometime triple teams worked to perfection.
By shutting down power forward Randolph, starting point guard Mike Conley said the rest of the Grizzlies suffered. Coach Lionel Hollins agreed, adding that Conley (14 points, eight assists) and center Marc Gasol (15 points, seven rebounds) did not play well either. While Conley is the point guard, Randolph's scoring typically sets the table for everyone else.
Although this was Memphis' lowest scoring game during this season's playoffs, the Grizz yet remain confident in their ability to make the necessary adjustments for remainder of the series.
For Randolph and Grizzlies, the first shot at redemption will be Game 2 in San Antonio on Tuesday.