Understand, this has nothing to do with the outcome of game 6 on Friday night in Memphis. Obviously, if the Grizzlies win and eliminate the hated (despised maybe?) Clippers then the party will elevate to even higher levels.
But the real party will come before and during the game. With the Grizzlies at home with the chance to advance to likely face a severely depleted Oklahoma City Thunder team, emotions will be at a fever pitch.
Understand, the Grizzlies have been here before, just last year in fact. After stealing game 6 in Los Angeles, the Grizzlies returned home for a game 7 in front of a sellout crowd and losing. So there’s definitely a precedent here.
On Tuesday night, the Grizzlies took Chris Paul’s best punch and still pulled away in the 4th quarter to take a 3-2 series lead.
How did we get here? Just eight days ago, the Grizzlies lost game 2 to the Clippers to go down 2-0 with only the small silver lining of going home to FedEx Forum to regroup and save their season.
Serious doubts about the future of the Grizzlies franchise were cropping up from every corner. Would Zach Randolph be traded? Would Lionel Hollins return? Could they decide to blow it up? A second straight first-round exit would make all of those a real possibility.
Now the Grizzlies have gone from potential first-round fodder to a sleeper to make the Western Conference Finals. It happens that fast in the NBA.
Memphis has become a dangerous team again by getting back what made them so special during the 2011 playoff run, and that’s running the offense through Randolph and Marc Gasol.
In a lot of ways, the Rudy Gay trade that was widely ridiculed at the time has become something of an afterthought, lost in the midst of the three straight playoff wins. At the time, the thinking was that the Grizzlies would redistribute Gay’s shots to Randolph and Gasol. During the regular season, it didn’t seem like the team was on the same page as the front office, but that hasn’t been the case in the postseason.
If the Grizzlies are going to close the Clippers out, they’re going to have to stick to what got them there with the modern Twin Towers and the same stingy defense that they’ve employed on Paul and the Clippers.
As good as the Grizzlies must be feeling right now, it’s going to be important for them to close the series out on Friday night because winning a game 7 on the road is one of the toughest things to do in sports. I mean, unless you’re the Clippers apparently.
If you have the opportunity to go to game 6 on Friday, you should do so. If you can’t go to the game, you should definitely watch it on television to see if the Grizzlies can close out one of the most remarkable in-series shifts in recent memory.
The fact the Clippers could be on the business end of the that series is just another bonus for a team that’s ceiling looks higher every game.