Rethinking Memphis

What the Grizzlies did to the Thunder Sunday won’t make the Spurs feel much better. But the game confirmed what the Spurs coaches said not only after the first round, but also during.

Such as: There were times when they felt, given the power and control of Memphis, they were the ones coaching the underdogs.

Oklahoma City can recover from a home loss in the opener. Marc Gasol, for example, can’t shoot 9-of-11 every game.

But the Spurs were thinking the same after Gasol shot 9-of-10 in their home loss in the first game of their series. As the games followed, however, the Grizzlies continued to put together the perfect playoff formula: Rugged defense, halfcourt offense, few turnovers.

Add to that a nice mix of youth and experience, with three bigs who can alternate with each other, and isn’t anything possible for this group?

At least the Spurs came within a Shane Battier 3-pointer of winning in their opener. The Thunder never threatened as the Grizzlies outlined everything they did against the Spurs. Whereas Mike Conley had two games against the Spurs where he played over 40 minutes and ended with just one turnover in each, he had no turnovers in 39 minutes Sunday. Whereas Zach Randolph finished off the Spurs with a 31-11 game, he put a 34-10 game on Oklahoma City.

Asked about Randolph afterward, Kevin Durant told reporters in Oklahoma City, “He’s an animal,” and the Spurs used similar descriptions. Durant also called him “the best power forward in the league.”

The conference’s No. 4 seed is finding out what the No. 1 already knew. And that should have everyone rethinking Memphis.

The only other No. 8 seed to eliminate a No. 1 in a best-of-seven series was Golden State over Dallas in 2007. The Warriors followed that by losing the first two against Utah, and eventually losing the series in five games.

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