If you know me, then you know I’ve been a Grizzlies fan most of my life.
Especially this team that has gone to 5 straight postseasons, man they’ve been fun to follow.
On Monday May 11, the day of game 4 against the best team in the world.
An idea popped into my head.
I didn’t want to believe, and still don’t want to.
But I think it might be true.
Playing in the Mud
Looking back on the last five years, it’s been a crazy ride of ups and downs for this team.
This team has been “the team no one wants to play.” I’ve believed it every year, and still do.
Everybody knows they play a different style that makes them hard to match up with.
It’s like in baseball if you see 100 straight pitches from a righty and then a lefty comes in. It’s weird.
Georgia Tech in football comes to mind. They never win a national title, but everyone complains if they draw them in a bowl matchup.
The unfamiliarity of their style makes you uncomfortable.
In 2011 the top seeded Spurs couldn’t handle it.
In 2012 the Clippers struggled with it, and again in 2013.
Only one team, the Spurs, have really been able to bounce this grizzlies team without a huge fight. Even that series had two games go to overtime if I remember correctly.
This team isn’t scared of anybody. They can beat anybody in a 7 game series.
I think that’s been true every year since 2011 – except maybe the spurs in 2013 or 14.
The point is, they’ve been as good as pretty much anybody these past 5 years.
The Mavericks won a title, OKC made it to the finals, why not us?
The Oregon Duck Theory
Oregon has been one of the best college football teams of the past 10 years.
They’ve made 2 title games and a handful of BCS bowls.
It seems every year they’re in the top 5 in late October.
Based on odds alone you would expect them to have won at least one.
So what’s their problem?
They’re problem is that they’re not actually as good as people think they are, well, kind of.
They’re in the hunt for the national title every year, yes… But they also always seem to lose a game out of nowhere.
Favored by 21.5 points in a home game against Arizona, -28 vs Oregon St.
Everyone else, they crush.
Oregon has what I’ll call an early tipping point.
If you get down by 17 in the 1st quarter, you’ll lose by 40 or more, and make Oregon look awesome doing it.
But if you can manage to catch a few breaks and hang around, you can beat them because they’re not that good before their tipping point.
That’s why they’re almost just as likely to lose to a bad team as they are a good team.
Some people might call them front runners.
Even a 40 point loss to a team like Oregon can really just come down to a few plays the other team got wrong, sending Oregon past that tipping point.
The Spurs have an early tipping point, and OKC when healthy.
The Warriors right now probably have the earliest tipping point in the league.
We’ve seen it… down 4… go have a pee… come back and we’re down 15.
Our Grizzlies, we have a tipping point way out around the 25 to 30 points in the late 3rd quarter – almost non existent.
Why Not Us?
I finally thought of why, 2 days after one of the biggest home wins in team history and one week removed from THE most impressive win in franchise history.
I wanted so badly Monday night to be proven wrong.
Maybe I still am wrong, but Monday was not an indication of that, and neither was the rest of the series.
I watched game 2 – how fun was that? – and remember how hard it was to pull it out.
The Grizzlies got 3 days rest for some reason, then in game 3 they were up 18 in the 3rd, and up 4 later in the 4th. We sweated out another one.
I always joke with my cousin about why it’s so hard for us to win games.
“Why can’t we ever just win by 25?” we say.
Most would say it’s because we lack outside shooting. Most might be right.
Either way, the Grizzlies’ grind it out style does seem to make you hold your breath every single big game they win.
We struggle to reach our tipping point.
The Grizz Theory
A team that has a late tipping point, must have an unorthodox style to compete with teams of better talent. That style will work for single games, and maybe even series, but will not work for an entire playoff run.
Here’s the problem.
Because we rarely reach our tipping point, every game and series is tough.
Every series requires a little more effort for us than it might for a team like San Antonio, OKC, or Golden State.
When you reach your tipping point, you coast. You get easy wins.
Look at the wins for the Warriors in this series, mostly pretty easy. They got to rest in the 4th.
Our 2 wins… gut wrenching.
By the time we make it deep into the second round, we’ve expended a lot more energy than our opponent for each win.
We’re more drained – and a lot of times, more injured.
We saw it Monday night in game 4 after working so damn hard to win games 2 and 3.
On a bigger scale, we saw it last year against OKC, after going up 3-2.
It takes a lot of energy to win a series in the mud.
That’s why teams rarely sweep us.
To win 4 series in the mud… close to impossible.
Again, I hope I’m wrong, and feel free to talk me out of it.
But even still, if I’m not, I wouldn’t have it any other way.