The correct answer to that question would be no, same as it was when Debo posed it to Red’s dad in “Friday”.
Behold the Memphis Grizzlies, instant contenders and the ultra-rare example of a team that looks so much better on paper than they should be in real life, yet in some sort of double-ironic twist, here they are.
In somewhat of a minor miracle, a team led by Zach Randolph, who is crazy enough to think he can do anything and talented enough that the rest of his teammates somehow fall in line behind him, is cutting a swath thru the Western Conference Playoffs as the 8th seed, and in the process managed to punk Tim Duncan and the Spurs in the same way Deebo got Red for his bike.
It’s all pretty crazy, really, and certainly not a blueprint you would wanna copy. Just ask the Blazers. Or the Knicks. Or The Clippers.
Just two years ago, Randolph and his bloated contract was being passed around the league, from Portland to New York to Los Angeles and finally to Memphis within the span of four years. Fuck, by the time he was traded to the Grizzlies, it was for nothing more than Quentin Richardson, and even then the Clippers were stoked just to get Randolph off their payroll.
Two years later, Zach has finally fulfilled his immense promise, and in ways that even his biggest fans had stopped dreaming of years ago. Not yet 30 years old, ZBO is one the most unique talents in the league. How many guys his size can score inside and out, dominate the boards and be counted on to score in clutch situations?
Anyone who ever saw him play for the Knicks probably has a hard time believing their eyes.
Indeed, that was Randolph, dominating the Spurs and nailing one clutch shot after another, all the while acting not the least bit surprised that such a thing could happen.
Sure, they are as good a bet to completely implode (I’m talking LITERALLY-as in just disintegrate into thin air) next season as they are to replicate their success, but damn, that’s what makes them so much fun.
History tells us that the NBA Playoffs has never been much of a forum for shocking upsets, but when they do happen they are usually of the dizzying variety. An 8 seed team beating the best team in the West as a result of stlyistic mismatches is one thing-hell, it happened four years ago with Golden State and Dallas. This appears to be something else, what with Memphis having gone into Oklahoma last night and pounded the Thunder with essentially the same blueprint.
Thing is, even the best NBA teams tend to have only one bonafide big man, if they have one at all. Memphis has two, and they are forcing opponents to choose between trying to stop Randolph’s scoring or Gasol’s furious boardwork. So far, they’ve succeeded in doing neither, and Memphis is getting so much attention down low that their perimeter guys are getting enough room to operate, and while none of them will be confused with Ray Allen, they are getting enough easy shots and trips to the line to make opposing defenses pay, to say nothing of the job they’ve done on defense.
All actual game analysis aside, these guys are just in the zone right now, playing really hard and loose at the same time, if that makes sense. Truth be told, game one looked more like a blueprint than an anomaly, and if the Thunder (talking to YOU, Russell Westbrook) can’t
find a way to be more efficient on offense, this series will be over sooner than later.
Only question left to ask at that point would be “can the MEMPHIS FUCKING GRIZZLIES make the NBA FINALS? Can this actually happen???
Of course, the fact they are doing this without their star (and highest paid) player Rudy Gay makes this story all the more bizarre, but I’m starting to get the feeling that the unit they’ve been winning with might actually be better without him. Of course, this might create a problem next year and beyond, but there are worse problems to have in the grand scheme of things than having too many good players. Pretty sure the Kings or the Raptors wouldn’t mind trading rosters with the Grizzlies. Honestly, I think there is a deal to made here, especially if it involves one of the handful of teams that are looking for a reliable sidekick (Chicago, Orlando and Houston all come to mind) and can give back another big body and some shooting to a team that finished dead last in 3 point shooting this season.
Nevermind the future though. I’d rather live in the now and enjoy this out-of-nowhere run from a team that is not only kicking ass but is a hell of alot of fun to watch. In the end, they’ll go as far as Zach Randolph can take them.
Does that sound weird or what?
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