2013 NBA Playoffs: Five Reasons the Memphis Grizzlies Can Win the NBA Title
NBA Playoffs: Five Reasons the Memphis Grizzlies Can Win the NBA Title
The Memphis Grizzlies moved on to Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history with an 88-84 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. Forward Zach Randolph led the way with 28 points and 14 rebounds, and guard Mike Conley also posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists. Memphis now awaits either the San Antonio Spurs or the Golden State Warriors with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line.
The Grizzlies have lost Game One of both of their playoff series, including the first two games to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round, but they turned things around and have now won eight of their last nine games.
Memphis have been led during the postseason by the frontcourt duo of Randolph (19.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game) and center Marc Gasol (18.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game), and their continued top-notch performance will be vital for the team to continue winning. But the Grizzlies have also been fairly well-balanced during the playoffs, with six players averaging at least 7.5 points per game through their first 11 games.
One of the primary storylines so far in these playoffs has been injuries, from the Thunder losing Russell Westbrook to the Chicago Bulls being without multiple players due to various maladies, but the Grizzlies have not had their depth depleted by injury to this point. Continued good health stands to give them an advantage over any potential upcoming opponents
Here are five reasons the Grizzlies can keeping winning and take home an NBA title.
5. Lionel Hollins
When thinking about the top coaches in the NBA, Hollins surely does not come to mind for a lot of people. But he has to get some credit for his team’s winning ways, and the overall poise and toughness the Grizzlies play with starts on the bench.
4. PG Mike Conley
Conley is Memphis’ third-leading scorer in the playoffs (17.6 points per game), highlighted by five 20-plus point games. He is also averaging 7.6 assists (leading the team) and 1.6 steals per game (second on the team) so far in the postseason. If Conley can continue to perform well on both ends of the floor, there’s no telling how far Memphis can go.
Memphis led the NBA in scoring defense (89.3 points per game) and finished third in opponent’s field goal percentage (43.5 percent) during the regular season. They have not quite performed to that level thus far in the playoffs, allowing 92.4 points per game, but they have matched their opponent’s field percentage from the first 82 games. Playing great defense is the driving force for the Grizzlies to keep the pace of the game to their liking, and it has to continue going forward.
2. Tony Allen
Allen's defensive work against Kevin Durant in Memphis' five-game dismissal of the Thunder was noteworthy, and he will continue to guard the other team’s best perimeter offensive player. Looking toward a possible NBA Finals matchup with the Miami Heat, if anyone can make LeBron James work for everything he gets it may be Allen.
1. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph
Apart from their talent level and production, Randolph and Gasol set the tone for the Grizzlies on both ends of the floor. If the Spurs advance, the likely matchup between Gasol, the league's Defensive Player of the Year this year, and Tim Duncan in the conference finals would be a must-see.