There was a definitely a playoff buzz in Phoenix on Monday night. The Memphis Grizzlies were playing to clinch the 8th and final playoff spot in the West; and the Phoenix Suns were playing to keep their playoff hopes alive. Both teams played like their season was on the line, which was in fact the case. The Grizzlies were off to a very solid start in the game, with a 24-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, knowing the importance of the game, the Suns didn’t go away. Markieff Morris and Goran Dragic led the Suns back from that 10 point deficit to get things tied 67-67 at the end of the 3rd Quarter. Morris finished with a team high 21 points and Dragic finished with 14 points and 5 steals.
However, despite the Suns’ strong efforts, they were no match for Zach Randolph and Mike Miller tonight. Randolph led the Grizzlies with 32 points and 9 rebounds on 15/25 shooting from the field and 2/2 shooting from the foul line. As for Miller, he was shooting like the basket was an ocean. He shot 8/11 from the field and 5/6 from 3 point range, which resulted in 21 points. In the end, the Grizzlies pulled away at the very end of the 4th quarter, resulting in a 97-91 victory for the Grizzlies and more importantly a trip to the playoffs.
Miller’s boost off the bench was really what won this game for the Grizzlies. Especially since Courtney Lee went scoreless for the entire game, shooting 0/4 from the field and 0/3 from 3-point range. The Grizzlies desperately needed somebody to pick up the slack once it became clear that Lee was having an off night, and Miller was the man for the job. Marc Gasol was also solid tonight with 18 points and 8 rebounds, and Mike Conley hit some big shots when the team needed him to. As is typical of every Grizzlies victory, it was a real team effort to get this win in Phoenix.
As for what lies ahead, the Grizzlies still can get the #7 seed if they beat the Mavericks on Wednesday night. If you have been keeping up with the articles on Beale Street Bears, you would know that I think getting the #7 seed is huge because that means that the Grizzlies draw the Thunder, who I think are a much better opponent for the Grizzlies to face than the top-seeded Spurs. The Grizzlies should definitely celebrate tonight’s victory and clinching of a playoff spot after all the adversity that this team has gone through. When this team started 10-15, things didn’t look good at all. Managing to make the playoffs in the Western Conference amid such a slow start is truly an impressive accomplishment. But with that being said, the Grizzlies have to remain focused and understand that there is still more work to do before the playoffs start.
—Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord
Tags: Memphis Grizzlies