Yes, the Memphis Grizzlies are for real, and they have been for the past several seasons.
The Grizzlies are very dangerous, and at times have been unstoppable in this year's playoff run with an appearance in the NBA Finals not out of the question for them. Power forward Zach Randolph is playing like a true playoff MVP candidate with the help of center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley.
Almost Derailed By The Clippers
The Grizzlies came back from their first two games in Los Angeles down 0-2 and needing an emotional uplift from their home fans. This year's team recorded the highest regular-season win total in the franchise's history with 56, but losing the first-round matchup would have left a negative impact on the city.
Head coach Lionel Hollins emphasized to his team that it was playing for its playoff lives and the Clippers responded splendidly against the Clippers. The Grizzlies played each possession and quarter to its fullest as home-cooking provided efficiency on both ends of the court. Their new passion helped the Grizzlies win the next four games and oust the Clippers from the playoffs
Pure Dominance Against Oklahoma City
Then, Oklahoma City management decided to trade away shooting guard James Harden to Houston, and the Thunder slowly lost their identity.
The key to this second-round series was how the Grizzlies effectively took away the second option in the Thunder offense, making scoring very difficult for them, especially when they needed a clutch basket to stay in games and, ultimately, in the series.
The Grizzlies only allowed forward Kevin Durant to defeat them once, albeit in a memorable Game One performance where he scored 35 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
The Thunder missed Russell Westbrook's presence on the defensive side of the ball, as Conley took full advantage of his absence by repeatedly penetrating into the paint for easy baskets. Let's not also forget that the Grizzlies' defense have forced their opponents into turning the ball over in key moments of games throughout the playoffs.
The Grizzlies are a team that an opponent cannot fall asleep on, as they clearly have an effective inside/outside offensive game that has helped them advanced in this year's playoffs.
Memphis has quietly developed its own "Big Three" that has caused trouble for opponents to defend. Randolph and Gasol are the best post-up combo in the NBA, and Conley has been terrific with distributing the basketball from the point guard position.
More importantly, the Grizzlies have great chemistry and are destroying the myth that an NBA team can only win a title if they have a true superstar on their roster.
They're a team fill of grit n' grind players that doesn't rely on individualism or on soothing the ego of a star player in order to succeed.