|Written by Michael|
Bet on the NBACould the Memphis Grizzlies be the smartest team in the 2011 NBA playoffs?
From entering the postseason as the eighth seed in the Western Conference and never having won a playoff game in the history of the franchise, the team is now one win away from advancing. And they could eliminate the top seed in the conference, making all sorts of NBA history.
The Grizzlies essentially threw away their final two games of the regular season in order to avoid facing the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. Instead, Memphis finished eighth in the West and drew the San Antonio Spurs as first-round opponents. From there, it was all uphill for the Grizzlies and all downhill for the Spurs.
In fact, the Grizzlies went up 3 games to 1 over the Spurs, forcing San Antonio to play every game like it was a Game Seven. At the time of this writing, Memphis is still up 3-2 with Game Six to be played on the Grizzlies' home court. And looking at the team's record at home over the regular season and how well they have played in the postseason so far, the Spurs should be worried.
Memphis finished the year with a record of 46-36, essentially tied with the New Orleans Hornets and two games behind the Portland Trail Blazers. But the Grizzlies are extremely strong at home, going 30-11 over the regular season. This equals the home records of the Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Lakers, and Miami Heat.
It is on the road where Memphis has repeatedly faltered, posting a disappointing 16-25 record during the season. But with the playoffs, they get to play more often in the same arenas, increasing their chances of pulling out a surprise win. And they are adept at defending their home court. Both of these factors should worry the Spurs and Thunder, if the Grizzlies are able to eliminate the top seed.
The good – or bad – news for the Grizzlies is that every game from here on out is the biggest, most important game in the history of the franchise. They have never won a playoff series before, and every win so far this year has been increasingly surprising. But it looks as if Memphis entered the postseason with a strategy, and so far they are making NBA history with that strategy.
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