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This is fun. A LOT of freakin’ fun.

I mean those of us here at 3 Shades of Blue and you faithful fans who have kept up with us, we’ve ridden with this team during the 24-win seasons. The heartbreak losses to PHX and SAC. We’ve stayed with this squad through Hasheem Thabeet. All the while, seeing the flashes, the flickers of something REALLY, REALLY COOL. I’d tell my buddy the Laker fan, “Dude. You’re not watching these guys. When they’re on, they can beat anybody. The trick is consistency. When they play with consistency, watch out.”

He’d laugh obnoxiously, tell me my team’s not going to make the playoffs, and referred to the Grizzlies as “cute.”

After the OKC Game 1 win, he told me his son and wife are cheering for the Boys from Beale. I cackled with delight. He muttered words I won’t put here without a TV-MA rating.

And he’s not the only one who’s realizing that this squad isn’t your usual 8th seed. Now that the experts are actually WATCHING our guys play . . . well, read for yourself:

 

Buck Harvey from mysanantonio.com is Rethinking Memphis:

What the Grizzlies did to the Thunder Sunday wont make the Spurs feel much better. But the game confirmed what the Spurs coaches said not only after the first round, but also during.

Such as: There were times when they felt, given the power and control of Memphis, they were the ones coaching the underdogs.

Oklahoma City can recover from a home loss in the opener. Marc Gasol, for example, cant shoot 9-of-11 every game.

But the Spurs were thinking the same after Gasol shot 9-of-10 in their home loss in the first game of their series. As the games followed, however, the Grizzlies continued to put together the perfect playoff formula: Rugged defense, halfcourt offense, few turnovers.

Add to that a nice mix of youth and experience, with three bigs who can alternate with each other, and isnt anything possible for this group?

ESPN’s Stat Geek John Hollinger gives it up: “Maybe the San Antonio Spurs aren’t too old, too slow or too unathletic.Maybe the Memphis Grizzlies are just really, really good.” He goes on to point out:

If you’re not familiar with these Grizzlies, take another look at the second half of their season: Memphis went 27-11 in its final 38 games before tanking the last two. Throw in the seven playoff games and their record is 32-13 in more than half a season; that’s a 58-win pace. Even after losing star forward Rudy Gay for the season, they barely lost a step.

Fran Blinebury at NBA.com has written a string of nice pieces about our Bears. He says that you can drop the Cinderella tag now. As a writer and NBA fan, I love this quote about Z-Bo: “Until Randolph (34 points, 10 rebounds) tires himself out or somebody brings him down with a tranquilizer dart, maybe it’s fantasy to think he can be defended. Z-Bo has become undefinable as he moves from bull moves under the bucket to a long-range jumper that has a softer touch than a butterfly’s wings.” Blinebury also says:

The Grizzlies are no longer the No. 8 seed, just happy to be here. Now they’re the demon seed, capable of unspeakable acts.

The Grizzlies have quickly outgrown that cute puppy stage where you want to rub their chins and give them a treat for showing off a new trick. Now they’re Cujo and they might chew your leg off.

That’s what happened to the Thunder, who, just for the record, did build one lead in the game, at 2-0. Then it was virtually all Grizzlies all of the time.

Let the rest of the world be surprised that Memphis has taken another 1-0 lead on the road in a playoff series.

In L.A., Mark Medina of the L.A. Times Lakers Blog finally acknowledges that guess what? Memphis came out of that Gasol trade pretty good, too. Speaking of Gasols, Pau has these thoughts:

“I also didn’t want to cross with them because I would have to beat him basically, beat him and his team,” said Gasol, who believes the Grizzlies are “capable” of beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals beginning Sunday. “In another way, I thought they would’ve been extremely challenging and would’ve tested us and given us a lot of problems. But we would have to really tune into our really best to beat them. That would’ve put us into another level like Oklahoma City did last year. They would’ve been a heck of an opponent.”

Betcha THAT little backhanded compliment goes up on a board after we’re finished with OKC, especially since a Lakers-Grizz Western Conference Final doesn’t sound so crazy anymore.

Anyway . . . let our guys keep turning heads. Regardless of how this postseason ends, Grizz are on the map. And come next season, there’s a phrase we’ll hear at FedEx Form that should be downright frightening for the rest of the league in its potential:

“At one forward, in his sixth season out of UConn . . . Number 22 . . . RUDY GAY!!!!”

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