I, uh, don’t know what to say. Sixteen game improvement last season, six more wins than that this season.
What happened? Zach Randolph, that’s what happened. Yes, I was in favor of ZBo being brought in the whole time. For all his, uh, non-fundamental aspects, his footwork and nose for the ball just appeal to any hoops junkie on a most fundamental level.
But this was one game…just like any other NBA game in a lot of respects…one team won, and they did it by…
…playing some scrambling D. Winning the rebound war, which is a HUGE part of defense.
Ok. Breaking from the game…
…for many of us here in Memphis, this is uncharted territory. Sure, I rooted for the Sixers in the Cheeks/Dr./Moses time, dug the Bullets with Elvin Hayes when I was VERY young…but rooting for the hometown team in the conference semis is just something new in the basketball lexicon, and it’s a welcome addition.
Ok. Also, Zach Randolph. Sure, a couple of those shots in the fourth may have looked a bit flukey, but I can assure they were not. As more people have finally begun to notice that ZBo is an elite-level PF, hopefully those people have also noticed that he can make shots off-balance, after contact, while anticipating contact, etc., etc. Having the rainbow fifteen-footer in the arsenal helped him in this game as it has in many games, but not for the usual reason (keeping defenses honest)-he had to make a fadeaway or two because the Spurs were ready for him in the paint. Even saw RJ pull a nifty dig-back early in the game (before Pop sat him down).
Hero of the game? Greivis Vasquez. Over 23 minutes and ZERO turnovers. With the zero-TO aspect in mind, I’ll forgive him a couple very ill-advised threes. His oop to DA (latest in a long string of those passes) also came at a crucial time in the game. Couldn’t be happier for GV-he’s been exposed in the playoffs, especially his concrete-footedness on D, but he came up big tonight.
The other part of the Grizzlies’ twin, uh, not-quite-towers was also humongous. Gasol has understood the importance of his rebounding role the whole season, but especially in this series. One can’t help but think that his extensive big-game international experience has helped him to elevate his game. The quiet leader on a team full of leaders who are coming to understand what accountability is all about.
Also, Kyle Lowry is still not in the playoffs. Sorry Kyle, but gotta mention that again. Hatin’ on the Griz got you nowhere.
Bring on OKC. Watch out Kevin and company-these Griz are ready. GO GRIZZLIES.