If you had told me at the beginning of the 2012-13 NBA Season that the Memphis Grizzlies would make it to the Western Conference Finals, I would have called you crazy. Well it looks like I am the crazy one as the Grizzlies beat the top seed Oklahoma City Thunder last night to advance to their first Conference Finals appearance in franchise history.
On January 30th, the Grizzlies put themselves in a deep hole when they traded their leading scorer F Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors as a part of a three-team deal. The Grizzlies did acquire F Tayshaun Prince in the deal, a guy who has a lot of championship experience but trading their leading scorer was a shocker to the basketball community. The Grizzlies thrived all season long on their defense. The Grizzlies would go on to lead the league in opponent points per game at just over 89 per game. C Marc Gasol became the first European to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, averaging under 8 boards and 1.74 blocks per game and G Tony Allen made the NBA All Defensive First Team and G Mike Conley and Gasol made the Defensive Second Team.
The Memphis Grizzlies do not have a dominant player as any one of their starters can be the leading scorer in any game. They don’t have a flashy player and do not play a style of basketball that will get you out of your seats. They love to play physical and like to slow the game down and feed the ball to their big men.
The Grizzlies entered the playoffs as the #5 seed and opened the playoffs against the #4 Los Angeles Clippers, a team who had just won their first division title in franchise history. The Grizzlies got themselves in a hole as they dropped the first two games in LA before winning the next four and advancing to the Semifinals against #1 seed Thunder. A big part of the Grizzlies success against the Thunder was their ability to shut down F Kevin Durant, perhaps the best shooter in the NBA.
After advancing to their first Conference Finals in team history, the Grizzlies are looking to extend their best season in franchise history and will now get some much-needed rest as they await the winner of the San Antonio Spurs/ Golden State Warriors series.
image was used from bleacherreport.com