We know why The Grizzlies beat the Clippers. They didn’t give up and once they figured out how to slow down Chris Paul, they kept him from getting his teammates off. Oh yeah, and 18,000 people started chanting “Whoop That Clip!” Grizzlies 4, Clippers 2.
We know why The Grizzlies beat the Thunder. Sure Russell Westbrook would have made that series much tougher and probably two games longer. But once the Grizzlies made Kevin Durant have to scramble for every jumper, layup and floater he shot, keeping Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin in check wasn’t so hard. Oh yeah. And 18,000 people chanted “Whoop That Trick.” Grizzlies 4, Thunder 1.
This San Antonio thing, though? This riddle we call the Spurs? I’ve watched all three games and they are so TOUGH to figure out. The Grizz have put it into overtime twice, so apparently, they’re right there. It makes you ask what does San Antonio have that Memphis doesn’t? And it seems to come down to the fact that they have at least two DOMINANT players in Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Do the Grizzlies have an answer? If you’re thinking it’s Zach Randolph, with all due respect to Z-Bo, this ain’t 2011. Get back in the time machine and come on back to 2013.
No. With the Grizzlies down 0-3, it is MARC GASOL TIME.
I wrote about this when the Grizzlies were down 0-2 to the Clippers — that Marc & Mike Conley had the skills to dominate, but would need to CHOOSE to do so. Granted, every big man the Grizzlies have taken down this postseason — Griffin, Jordan, Ibaka, Perkins — add all those guys together and you’d still have only about two-thirds of a Tim Duncan. Which also doesn’t factor in a sneaky good Tiago Splitter. I am NOT saying that Marc can dominate Tim Duncan. Outplay him? Yes. Dominate? No.
But I tell you what I’ve seen: I’ve seen Marc pass up open shots this series. That elbow jumper is there whenever he wants it — which by the way, would help provide that all-important spacing that Zach needs to operate in the post. As he’s done this whole season, when Marc Gasol gets open, he can create for his teammates slashing to the basket.
But this post isn’t about numbers or play calls. It is quite simply about WILL. Marc always wants to do what’s best for the team. That, and his toughness are the reasons why we love him. We know that in asking Marc to dominate, it doesn’t mean him taking all the shots — but it does mean him LOOKING for his own shot instead of automatically deferring to his teammates. Especially the ones that can make layups.
But Marc dominating would likely mean a line of 26 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks and 8 assists. Do that tonight . . . and three more times this week, and I like our chances of taking the series.
Oh yeah, and one more thing. At Game 3, I noticed this tweet from my friend J.A. Adande of ESPN.com.:
This should feel more dramatic. The next quarter could decide the Western Conference finals…and it’s flat in the Grindhouse.
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 26, 2013
And that wasn’t the only mention I heard about the Grindhouse feeling a bit different, less raucous, particularly late in the game. Got into a conversation about it with Greg Gaston after the game. And I came up with this theory: That being in the Western Conference Finals has taken some of the Grind out of the Grindhouse.
Think about it: It should come as no surprise that WCF Tickets are in high demand. High demand includes bandwagon fans who haven’t been on this ride the whole season — some of them rich. High demand = higher ticket prices. So if bandwagon fans with a little more means can afford the higher priced tickets, it seems that it would squeeze out some fans without deep pockets — some of the diehard, rowdy fans that gave our guys the edge this season.
Or, in short, that some of the fans who most identify with this team — the hardworking, blue collar, “nothing given to them” fans — quite simply can’t afford to come. And in their place? Some wealthier, more conservative, bandwagon fans.
I don’t have a solution for that by the way. I do think that this year’s bandwagon fans will become next year’s diehards — it’s near impossible not to fall in love with this team in this town. And of course, the Grizzlies are a business. It’s their job to charge as much as the market will bear for any game, especially the Western Conference Finals.
But quieter, less invested fans won’t help win Game 4.
That’s all us diehards care about today.