NBA Playoffs: Can the Grizz Win Their First Ever Playoff Game Against the Spurs?

Tyler Ward@twardyyyAnalyst IApril 15, 2011

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 03:  Zach Randolph #50, Mike Conley #11, Marc Gasol #33 congratulate Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies after picking up a loose ball against the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena on March 3, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

There are two teams in the entire NBA that have never won a playoff game: the Charlotte Bobcats (0-4) and the Memphis Grizzlies (0-12).

The sheer fact alone that the Grizzlies have been around for eight more years than the Bobcats is astounding. The Grizzlies have been given ample opportunity to win one playoff game, but push comes to shove and they can't seem to close the deal.

But now, for the fourth time in franchise history, the Grizzlies are back in the postseason.

They sealed the eighth seed with their loss to the Clippers on Wednesday and will now take on the injury-prone San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.

This may be the best shot the Grizzlies have at finally winning a playoff game.

But let's reverse in time for a second.

For three straight seasons, the Grizzlies advanced to the postseason (2003-06) and got swept by the Spurs, Suns, and Mavericks, respectively.

Despite winning zero out of twelve games, those three seasons were arguably the best ones in franchise history. In that span, their record was 144-102.

In the seasons since, the Grizzlies have amassed a 108-220 record (excluding this season).

To put it simply, that isn't going to get you very far. The only good thing (and I use that term lightly) is that their failures have led to early draft selections, although a couple haven't turned out as well as they had hoped. (Anyone seen Hasheem Thabeet?)

There were high hopes entering this season, as the Grizzlies compiled a 40-42 record last season, narrowly missing out on the postseason.

Owner Michael Heisley and Co. used their first-round draft selections on Kansas guard Xavier Henry and Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez. They also acquired former fan favorite Shane Battier from Houston at the trade deadline and signed defensive stud Tony Allen to a three-year deal during free agency.

The acquisition of Battier alone may have helped the Grizzlies more than imaginable, as he has added veteran leadership and good defense to a young and athletic team.

Allen, consistently one of the best players on the team this season, has provided more defense to the team, along with postseason success, as he won a championship with the Celtics in the 2007-08 season.

The Grizzlies have also gone through their fair share of rough patches this season - O.J. Mayo's suspension, along with being benched, former No. 2 overall selection Hasheem Thabeet being traded, and most importantly, Rudy Gay's season-ending shoulder injury.

But they always managed to stay in games and occasionally, win them. They have overcome many weaknesses and have become a postseason team for the first time since 2005-06.

So the question remains: can the Grizzlies win just one playoff game this season?

I honestly think they can and I'm not just saying that because I'm a Grizzlies fan.

A lineup of Mike Conley Jr., Tony Allen, Sam Young, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol is possibly better than the lineups of the postseason teams earlier this decade. Not to mention, they have players such as O.J. Mayo, Shane Battier, and Most Improved Player candidate Darrell Arthur coming off the bench.

Taking a look at their last postseason team (2005-06), the roster favors this season's Grizzlies: Pau Gasol (80 starts), an aging Eddie Jones (75 starts), Shane Battier (81 starts), Chucky Atkins (39 starts), Lorenzen Wright (58 starts), Damon Stoudamire (27 starts), and Jake Tsakalidis (19 starts).

Throw in random players such as Bobby Jackson, Mike Miller, Hakim Warrick, overpaid Brian Cardinal, Antonio Burks, and Lawrence Roberts and in my opinion, this year's roster is way better, albeit Rudy Gay's injury.

What's the main difference between the two rosters? Defense.

Even though Battier was on both teams, his defensive abilities may be even better this season. He is perhaps one of, if not the best, outside defender. Allen, a perennial top defender, can lockdown opposing team's best guards and forwards.

Conley also reeks havoc on defense and is among the NBA's elite in steals.

Zach Randolph is also one of the best rebounders in basketball, as he is a constant double-double threat night in and night out. With the younger Gasol by his side, that makes him even better. Like Z-Bo, Gasol is also a double-double threat every night.

The Grizzlies are also one of only two teams in the entire NBA that have two players ranked in the top ten in steals per game (Allen, 5th, and Conley, 6th). The Hornets would be the other team (Paul, 1st and Ariza, 9th).

Players such as the five above would only do better in the postseason, as every thing is on the line, especially Battier and Allen, who have postseason experience.

The best thing the Grizzlies have going for them right now is that the Spurs are weak, having been rattled with injuries to some of their best players.

It may have just gotten worse for the Spurs, as Manu Ginobili went down with an elbow inury against the Suns on Wednesday. Ginobili went down hard, after colliding with Grant Hill and laid on the court, in obvious pain, for several minutes.

He immediately headed to the team's bench and then went to the team's locker room.

After examination of Ginobili's injury, the team announced that it was a hyperextended right elbow, while the X-rays turned out to be negative. An MRI is scheduled on Thursday when the team returns to San Antonio.

Tim Duncan, who is getting older, went down with a knee injury in late March against the Warriors. He did not play in the last few of San Antonio's games.

He should be healthy for the postseason, but the Spurs can't handle another Duncan injury.

However, these injuries could lead to the Grizzlies upsetting the Spurs for a rare postseason win or two.

Age also qualifies as a downfall for the Spurs, as their roster is filled with older players.

Antonio McDyess, who will see a decent amount of playing time, is one of the oldest players in the league and he may not be able to handle younger and more athletic players such as Gasol and Randolph.

To put it frankly, this is the Grizzlies' best shot to win a postseason game and there is always that slim chance that the Grizzlies could even upset the Spurs in the first round, as the two teams split their season series, 2-2.

Only time will tell, as the postseason is right around the corner.


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