The Grizzlies’ win over the Dallas Mavericks was as close as it could be, with the victory coming in overtime by a score of 106-105 Wednesday night.
Zach Randolph was the enforcer for Memphis tonight, doing heavy damage in the post and taking advantage of the fact that Dallas is not a good rebounding team (40.9 rebounds per game as a team good for 25th in the league) and lack bruising size down low. Randolph piled up 27 points on 50 percent shooting to go along with 14 rebounds. Randolph was a man in the post, and the Mavericks simply had no answer for his size and ability to box out and secure the rebound.
Arguably the most important player for the Grizzlies in the win, however, was Marc Gasol.
Gasol had the best stat line of any player in the game, putting up 19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in the victory. Gasol was able to take advantage of his ability to find a spot out on the key and make the right pass to his teammates due to his size that allows him to see over the defense. Not only that, but Gasol was efficient in scoring his points, as he shot 9-of-13 from the field. When both Randolph and Gasol are on their games, there are very few front court tandems that can match up with them down low.
Defensively, the Grizzlies did a fantastic job at limiting the Mavericks on the perimeter. Dallas only shot a measly 8-of-30 from three point range, where they have a stable of shooters that can be effective from that area on the floor. With little room to take and make shots from downtown, the Mavericks were forced to drive into the lane and run into Randolph and Gasol, who held their own in the paint. It was this defensive advantage that allowed the Grizzlies to pull out the win. Credit has to be given to the Mavericks though for taking and making a lot of difficult mid range shots and finishing tough looks around the rim.
With the win, the Grizzlies will now play the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. Oklahoma City will be no tough out, as they have two of the best players in the game in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Grizzlies will have to play the defense they are capable of playing, and Randolph and Gasol will be counted on to win the battle in the post. If the Grizzlies cannot maintain control of the paint, then they will have little chance of winning the series, as the Thunder will have the clear edge on the perimeter due to their two dynamic scoring weapons in Durant and Westbrook.
The Grizzlies are capable of beating the Thunder if they come prepared and play their best game. Maybe the win tonight will give Memphis that morale boost that they will need to capitalize on if they expect to advance to the next round.