Thursday, May 5, 2011
Behind The Scoreboard
In the midst of all the spectacular occurrences this past weekend, there is no way that the Grizzlies’ role in the “second” season of the NBA could be excluded.
The fact that the franchise has been identified as one of four which has made the most remarkable improvements this season has only heightened the image. And increased the interest a thousand fold.
Both conferences of the NBA entered their semi-final phases this past weekend and, naturally, there were four teams in each side still standing. The West is being represented by the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Dallas Mavericks and the L.A. Lakers. The East’s tale of teams is the Boston Celtics versus the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks.
The Chicago Bulls have surprised many with their caliber of play during the regular season and their run through the first round. The team’s success is being attributed to a pair of names – Derrick Rose and Tom Thibidou. The former you have heard many times, the latter maybe not so much. Thibidou is the rookie coach of the Bulls and was chosen the “Coach of the Year” last week. He led the team to a 62-30 regular season mark, the best since Chicago had “ole you know who.” Rose was also being touted as the possible “Player of the Year.” Just how far the Bulls will go this season depends heavily on when Rose will run out of steam.
The East champion is clearly going to be a toss-up between the Celtics and the Heat in the semis. The media is predicting another epic series that is going to follow closely on the one that took place between the Celtics and the Cavaliers when James was at the latter. At a press conference prior to the start of the semis, King James said his battle with Boston has become personal. He did not denigrate the Celtics, saying that personally he is tiring of Boston “standing in his way.” James’ remarks could have been infectious if one considers the manner in which the Heat dispatched the Celtics in game one.
The “punked out” tag which Phil Jackson tagged his team with in their contests with New Orleans apparently had the desired affect. His Lakers regained some composure and sent the Big Easy men back home to take it easy for the rest of the season. This writer doesn’t see the Mavericks stopping the Lakers in the semis.
Of course we have saved the best for last. The Grizzlies’ saga just keeps getting better and better. After this season is over Memphis will probably have enough new records to sustain them for a decade. It’s the first time in history that an eighth seed has won a prelim series and then taken the first game of round two. And don’t forget that first series was against a number one. Then there was the first time a Griz player has scored 34 points in a playoff game. And Zach Randolph shows no signs of tiring. Memphis is selling out the FedEx Forum and endearing itself to its fans and the surrounding area.
The road to the ring is still fraught with thorns but the Memphis Grizzlies really believe. (And they are beginning to make believers out of a lot of us).
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