In what was truly an epic battle of two teams who desperately didn’t want to face the Spurs, the Grizzlies came out victorious by the skin of their teeth on Wednesday night against the Mavericks. If you thought the game in Phoenix was an epic battle, this game at home against the Mavericks was even more intense. The final score was 106-105 in overtime and it included Mavericks shooting guard Monta Ellis taking a shot to win the game in overtime only to have his shot rattle around the rim and come out.
The game was very back and forth with both teams trading the lead at different stages. It was clear that both teams desperately wanted to win this game even though they both had playoff spots secured. It just goes to show how much these teams respect and fear the Spurs. Zach Randolph once again delivered tonight for the Grizzlies, finishing with 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Mike Conley finished with a solid 22 points and 5 assists. Marc Gasol didn’t play too bad either, nearly completing a triple double with 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists. As for the Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki played like his hall of fame self, finishing with 30 points and 5 rebounds. This game went right down to the wire and into overtime, and fortunately Ellis’ shot at the end of overtime didn’t drop.
The result of this victory is that the Grizzlies clinch the #7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and will face the #2 seeded Thunder in the first round of the playoffs instead of the #1 seeded Spurs as the #8 seed. In addition, the Grizzlies also secure their 50th win of the season. As for the Mavericks, they end up seeded #8 and will have to face the Spurs.
I wrote an article earlier in the season that said if the Grizzlies could face any team in the first round it would be the Thunder, so naturally I am very happy with tonight’s result. The reason why facing the Thunder is much better than facing the Spurs is because the Grizzlies can pound the Thunder inside with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and also slow down Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on the perimeter. The Grizzlies’ slow and grinding style of play greatly conflicts with what the Thunder like to do which is run up and down the court. Whether or not the Grizzlies’ style will be enough to take out the Thunder remains to be seen, but I do see it potentially giving the Thunder serious problems.
The main take away from tonight’s win that should give Grizzlies fans great encouragement is that the Grizzlies know how to fight and dig deep in tough situations. Dave Joerger has this team prepared every night to do whatever it takes to win big games like tonight’s game. When this team needs a stop, they get a stop. When they need a bucket, they get it. That’s what you need to do when the playoffs come around, which is why everybody says this team is built for the playoffs. They defend, they wear down their opponents, and they get the necessary stops and baskets that they need. I don’t want to over look the Thunder because I know they are a great team, but I really like what I’ve seen from the Grizzlies this week in both playoff-level wins over the Suns and Mavericks. Hopefully the Grizzlies use the momentum from these wins to go into Oklahoma City and get a split.
—Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord
Tags: Memphis Grizzlies