It’s funny how second chances work. See, back in May of last year, when the Grizzlies were going against the Spurs in the WCF, I wanted to write a piece about how after one quarter of play, every single bad thing I was afraid of happening to the Grizzlies had happened, and thus, I had nothing left to be afraid for the rest of the series. Well, first I was just too lazy to do it, then I spilled beer on my keyboard, and by the time I got a new one, the series and the season were over. My chance was gone. Thankfully, the Grizzlies had an equally putrid opening 12 minutes against the Thunder, and I can say it after all: after one quarter of play, every bad thing I thought would happen had happened.
The Grizzlies first half is honestly too hilarious to even be depressing. I mean, you’ll often hear the phrase “they can’t hit anything” to a describe a team that isn’t shooting the ball very well, but the Grizzlies literally didn’t make a shot outside of the paint until it was almost halftime. When it was halftime, I was bummed but also sort of relieved; sure, we were probably going to lose, but this cartoonishly awful performance hardly represented where the Grizzlies really were as a team, and thus, it would be fairly easy to erase it form my memory and look forward to Game 2.
Unfortunately, the second half also happened, and honestly, I found that far more disconcerting. Don’t get me wrong, the Grizzlies were amazing in the third quarter, and the fact that they managed to trim a 25-point deficit to just two points is pretty encouraging, since outscoring the Thunder by 23 points during any stretch of a game is a pretty lofty accomplishment. But the way the Grizzlies hopes just vanished, right went it looked like they might actually win was pretty brutal to watch. The Grizzlies have put together quite a talented roster, but when KD drained the three that put OKC’s lead back to 10, and I knew it was going in as soon as he shot it, I couldn’t but find myself thinking “oh right, they have Kevin Durant and we don’t.”
And that’s a scary thought going forward. Obviously, you want to think the Grizzlies deep roster and intimidating post presence will be enough to overcome the myriad of amazing things Durant does, but as we watched Z-Bo struggle again, continuing his string of poor games from the Spurs series, it was hard not to wonder if this Grizzlies team really has the necessary firepower to take the Thunder down.
But hey, it was just one game (as the saying goes), and the Grizzlies could still take back home court tonight. They can’t fall behind by that much again. Yes, they were able to make up almost all of it momentarily, but Durant and Westbrook are the type of players who can erase all that work in under two minutes. In short, if the Grizzlies want to have a shot in this game, they have to keep things close throughout, because this is really not the kind of team you want to find yourself playing catch-up with.
Oh, and it would be nice if they could get something from Beno Udrih, who has a ton of experience and even won a title with the Spurs, but looked like a deer in the headlights for much of game 1. He might be struggling to adjust to the sudden pressure of being the #2 point guard, but he needs to shake it off and come through. Come on dude, you’re better than Keyon Dolling, and the Grizz got to the Western Finals with him…