Usually, by the time I sit down to write something for 3SOB.com, I have a pretty clear idea of what I’m going to say. I even usually write the title before I begin. However, sometimes, you don’t know what you’re going to write – maybe not even what you’re going to write about – but you feel like you just need to sit down with a keyboard and a blank post and work through some things. As I embark on this post, my title is (was) simply “Contemplating”.
I thought about “Contemplating Mortality” but that’s not really what I’m getting at here. I’m not looking at tonight’s Game 5 as a time to start putting a bow on the 2013-2014 Memphis Grizzlies season. Based on how the last 3 games have gone – and how the last 16 playoff games between these teams have gone – there is no reason to think that Memphis won’t win Game 5 and come back to the Grindhouse on Thursday to close the series out. We’ve been in these situations before and rallied to put ourselves back in a position to win a series (i.e. Clippers 2012 – though we didn’t follow through after that outstanding Game 6 victory in LA).
So many things that happened in Game 4 are unlikely to happen again. The problem is that as many of those likely changes benefit OKC as they do Memphis.
- The Grizzlies are unlikely to miss so many free throws of such importance; but
- Kevin Durant is unlikely to miss so many shots – important or otherwise; but
- The Grizzlies are unlikely to give up 20+ offensive rebounds; but
- Russell Westbrook is unlikely to continue his uneven performance; but
- Reggie Jackson is unlikely to have a career-night and save OKC from disaster; but
- The Thunder are unlikely to shoot 28.6% from beyond the arc; but
- The Grizzlies are unlikely to shoot 37% from the field; but
- The Thunder are unlikely to turn the ball over 21 times.
Something has to give at some point, right? Either KD & Westbrook find their footing and put on a performance like they did in Game 1, or Conley & Co. show (their now characteristic) resilience and are totally unfazed by the opportunity missed in Game 4 and the prospect of needing a win on the road. If I pretend to tell you which it will be, I’d only be flipping a coin and alleging clairvoyance if I’m right.
(For you curious few, it was after that paragraph that I found the rest of my title).
How about some things I do know: the Grizzlies are still absolutely capable of winning this series. It’s true that on 3SOBRadio this week I said that the winner of Game 4 wins the series. And I think statistically it is overwhelmingly true, but this Grizzlies team has defied a lot of odds thus far. I remember a time when the ghost of John Hollinger that lives inside ESPN.com gave the Grizzlies a .2% chance of making the playoffs. Yet here we are.
One drawback of making the playoffs 4 years in a row is that the whole idea of “Believe Memphis” risks becoming a cliche. Something we say because we’re supposed to say it, but something we may not actually…believe? Don’t fall victim to that. If there is one thing this community knows, its playing to win when the odds are stacked against you. The team (and the city) rarely take the path of least resistance. The reason our towels and banners and #hashtags say “Believe Memphis” is because – despite the tough road – this city and this franchise never quit fighting for that which so many outsiders may say we cannot have, do not deserve or are incapable of achieving.
Losing Game 4 was not just an opportunity missed, but also an opportunity gained. These next 2-3 games are another opportunity to #BelieveMemphis. Another chance for the Grizzlies and the people that support them to shine in the face of adversity. So fan-up, get your game gear/face on, grab your towel and give ‘em hell tonight.
Grind on, Memphis.