There was something different about entering the Memphis Grizzlies locker room last night after they had just lost by ten points and lost all four games of the season series.
While the losing locker room is usually very quiet with players holding their heads down and talking about lack of execution or lost opportunities, I walked into what seemed like a positive environment.
Players this time talked about moral victories, confidence and putting forth a team effort.
"Tonight it worked out for us. They’re a great team, really well-coached and really deep and talented," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I think if we played ten times, it would be five-five. That’s just the way it is with those guys."
Popovich and the Spurs know those guys well after the Grizzlies stole home court advantage and shocked the NBA in a six-game first round series win.
While both teams finished the regular season series last night, there's a chance they could still face off in the Western Conference Finals, a battle I personally wouldn't mind seeing.
NBA.com's Fran Blinebury agrees, saying he would prefer a Spurs-Grizzlies rematch over a Bulls and Heat series.
At the other end of the AT&T Center in the Grizzlies locker room, Rudy Gay looked down at his shirtless body and tried to count up all of the bloodied scratches he could find – on his neck, both shoulders, his chest, his stomach, one leg.
“Yeah, it was that kind of game,” Gay said.
And it could be that kind of series again sometime in the next couple of months.
By that time, Zach Randolph could very like be at 100 percent. The series would definitley be different than last years, with what hopefully could be a deeper, completely healthy Spurs team against the Grizzlies with Rudy Gay.
The Spurs and Grizzlies still have to finish out the season and have a lot of work ahead in the playoffs for the rematch to take place, but I'm sure the Spurs and Spurs fans would love some redemption.
I don't wanna sound too confident, but I'm not worried about any team this season, I truly believe the Spurs are the best team in the NBA and defense is getting much better at the right time, hopefully with health and good rest we can have 2 quick series and get ready for a show down in conference finals and finals :D
Their second best defender and clutch 3-point shooter that cost us game 1 (Shane Battier) is gone. Sam Young, who was a definite threat off of the bench is gone. Z-Bo is out of shape and coming off of the bench. They swapped Vasquez, who did fairly well against us, for washed up Gilbert Arenas. Rudy Gay is busy taking forced shots while shooting terribly low percentages against us.
Basically, the Grizzlies front office took everything that was good and old-school about the team and threw it all away. With the exception of Tony Allen's defense, the Grizzlies are no longer the scary team they were last year. Z-Bo's injury was the nail in the coffin for the Grizzlies chances of making it out of the first round. Losing Battier, Young, Z-Bo through injury, and gaining Gay were all negatives for this team.
@CraigThomas Mo Speights was a big pickup for them. He doesn't average crazy numbers, but he is another big they've added. Not surprisingly, he scored above his season average versus us. Matt Bonner was guarding him for many parts of the game. With Gasol, Zbo, Speights, and Dante Cunningham they have a formidable front line. Then you have Rudy Gay who can score and rebound. So it's going to be a battle versus these guys. Zbo isn't putting up the same numbers b/c of his injury, but he's still rounding into shape (no pun intended). I expect him to be in the starting lineup come playoff time and for his production to increase. I do feel a little better about playing them this year as opposed to last b/c now Pop is playing Tiago more and we have better offensive weapons to help out when Tony or Manu or Tim are struggling. But I hate when we fall in love with the 3 ball.. that could be our downfall.
Last year's Griz team w/o Gay was purely a post up team. Gasol would post Dice. Z-Bo would post Timmy. Allen would post up Manu. Darrell Aurthur played post up. So did O.J Mayo. They simply out muscled is. There truly were not a better team.
Now that Gay is back, the Grizz just has a different feel. Rather than post the Spurs to death like they did last year, they are running more set plays where Gay is their first option. And he doesn't have a great post up game. Or maybe Kawhi is just good enough to defend him.
Either way, I'm really not worry about the Grizzlies this year.