Memphis Is For Real
MEMPHIS IS THE REAL DEAL
by Kelso Sturgeon
Respect does not come easy in the world of sports. Boise State went 94-11 over an eight-year period, knocked off Oklahoma, 43-42, in the Fiesta Bowl in a set-up game that was supposed to expose the Broncos as a fraud and still it was difficult to convince the world the Broncos were the real deal. The Memphis Grizzlies find themselves afflicted with the same lack-of-respect syndrome in the NBA playoffs.
It plays well for those betting the NBA playoffs. The Grizzlies still get no respect and one can get a point or two the best of it with them every single night, although one should not conclude this makes them an automatic play, but an edge is an edge.
Memphis didn't qualify for a playoff spot until the final week of the regular season and began the post-season as a number eight seed, meeting top-seeded San Antonio in the first round. When that round was over the Grizzlies had won it 4-2 and had gone 5-1 against the number in that game and became the fourth number eight seed in NBA history to beat a number one seed.
The Grizzlies wrapped up the first round on April 29 with a 99-91 home win over San Antonio and then-according to the pundits totally exhausted from their efforts against the Spurs-took the floor 36 hours later in Oklahoma City and buried the Thunder, 114-101, as a 7-point underdog.
Game two of the Memphis-Oklahoma City will be played in Oklahoma City Tuesday night and the Thunder are 6 ½ point favorites.
Stuck In First Gear
It is a fact of life the public's opinion of how good/bad is a team is imbedded in the brain before the season begins. The media bombards the world with its opinions, which come from the most part from listening too and interviewing one another-and that means there is little difference in what any pundit espouses.
For Memphis, it meant the Grizzlies were again considered to be a subpar franchise and with little chance to make any noise and certainly a real outsider to make the playoffs. Before the season began, Memphis was offered at from 100-1 to 150-1 to win the NBA championship. You could still get down at 60-1 just four weeks ago.
Memphis went 40-42 in 2009-10 and was projected by the bookmakers to win 38 games this season, or four less than last year. They finished 46-36 during the regular season and in the process went 53-28-1 ATS in those games.
In other words, this was a team that advertised in advance of the post-season it was dramatically under-rated by the public and those make betting lines. That 65.0% figure against the spread was the best in the NBA, with the Chicago Bulls checking in at 59.3% and the Dallas Mavericks at 58.1%.
Bettors are stuck in first gear with Memphis while the Grizzlies shifted to high gear weeks ago.
Spit & Polish vs. Spit & Spit
Nobody has said it better than Memphis Commercial Appeal writer Geoff Calkins who described the Oklahoma City-Memphis semifinals series as "Spit and Polish vs. Spit and Spit". That classic statement describes the entire season for the Grizzlies.
Oklahoma City, the spit and polish team, has superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Memphis has no players with acknowledged superstar status, although Zach Randolph might move into that roll after this season. Randolph came to Memphis with the reputation of being a perpetual trouble-maker and malcontent. He is now the teams leader and in the opening win over Oklahoma City had 34 points and 10 rebounds and made shots from everywhere on the floor.
Memphis is where it is right now because it is a physical team that out-hustles its opponents and owns the world of offensive rebounds-and goes into every game feeling it can win.
Memphis is the youngest team in the NBA, with an average age of 24.08 years while teams such as Miami and Boston are on the north side of 30. That too is a big edge at this point of the playoffs.
The bottom line: Memphis is the real deal.
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