Breaking: Michael Beasley in the Bluff City

It’s been a while, Grizz Nation. With this first post of the 2014-2015 season, I bring some breaking news.

Michael Beasley will join the Memphis Grizzlies at training camp on a non-guaranteed contract.

Michael Beasley

There’s been a good bit of speculation around Michael Beasley as he’s made his way around the Western Conference this offseason. The free agent has openly worked out with the Spurs, Lakers and while less publicized, also the Grizzlies.

An anonymous, very close source filled in some of the missing pieces to the story. In classic Memphis fashion, Beasley met with Chris Wallace at Gus’s Fried Chicken today. But, it wasn’t his first time in the Bluff City. In fact, it’s the second time he’s worked out with the Grizzlies in the last 30 days. Beasley landed in Memphis again one week ago, but somehow, it remained underwraps.

Beasley chose Memphis because he will have a good opportunity to join the Grizzlies roster as a backup power forward.

I’ll know more details as the story develops, and you’ll be the first to know.

Keeping things light in the post season

Any team in the playoffs sees a significant increase in media attention, but there’s just something about the way the Grizzlies do it.

From wild outfits, to enormous amounts of sass, to your average press conference entertainment, here’s a look at the fantastic media coverage of the Grizzlies/Thunder series. It’s a clown show, really.

Russell Westbrook wasn’t aware of the Grindhouse.

In an interview with Jarvis Greer of Action News 5, Russell Westbook refused to accept the FedEx Forum’s beloved nickname. He interrupted Greer after her referred to the Grindhouse, insisting that the gorgeous arena be known exclusively by its sponsor-given name. Here’s how it went down according to the Commercial Appeal:

He was responding to a question from one of Memphis’s longest-tenured TV sports anchors, Jarvis Greer, that went like this: “Your road record is one of the best in the NBA but talk a little bit specifically about playing here in the Grindhouse against this team.”

Westbrook gave Greer a bit of a quizzical look and said, “You said the FedExForum? That’s the name of the arena, right?”

To which, Greer answered in the affirmative. Then Westbrook continued: “Uh, playing at the, uh, FedExForum , it’s a good arena, the fans are loud and they cheer on their team and we just gotta come in and play our game.”

 

A little tense, Russell?

Russell-Westbrook-Returns-To-Practice.

Trick or Treat

Tony Allen is currently OWNING the leading scorer in the NBA, Kevin Durant, so you know he’s having one heck of a week. His dominance in this series with OKC has earned him quite a bit of time in the media, and I must say he has composed himself pretty well so far. I’m so proud. But the rest of the nation is getting just a taste of what Grizz Nation already knows. You know you’re special when you have more than one unforgettable nickname.

I can answer that for you, Bill- Tony Allen- *Future Voice*

 

That time Kendrick Perkins sat on Mike Miller

Hey, Kendrick Perkins, take a seat. Wait, no, not there.

On thursday night, Perkins decided to stop time, if just for a moment, and take in the glory of Grizz Nation. On top of Mike Miller. Hilarity ensues.

 

(SB Nation)

(SB Nation)

 

 

(SB Nation)

(SB Nation)

 

Things get a little weird afterhours in the Forum

If you’ve been to a Grizzlies game you know about Super Grizz, the Grannies and Grandpas and the leaping Elvis impersonators. If you haven’t been to the FedEx Forum… well, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog.

 

And I don’t even know what to say about this:

Please say this was a joke. Please say this was a joke.

 

It’s a slippery slope, Mike. Turn back while you still can!!

(businessinsider.com)

(businessinsider.com)

 

As we all prepare ourselves for the game tonight, I want to leave you with one image. It’s an oldie but a goodie courtesy of Zach Randolph. I just couldn’t end this post without mentioning Z-Bo.

 

One love, Grizz Nation.

 

-Casey Black

Just that Classic Grit n Grind OT

Moments after defeating the Mavs in overtime in that last regular season game, midway through a well-deserved celebration for dodging the Spurs, I realized what situation we had put ourselves in. The Grizzlies would be facing OKC, a true juggernaut- a team with one of the best benches in the league, a team that matched up with use at every position.

Oh, and the team with the best scorer in the league.

And they have Westbrook this time. Westbrook’s injury added an asterisk to the end of our 2013 Playoff victories against OKC, always reminding us that sure we beat them, but we beat them while they were down. Well, it looks like those days might just be behind us.

I knew this time would be entirely different, but I didn’t anticipate this. We’re up 2-1 on the series with two overtime victories and we’ve still got one game at home before heading back to OKC.

IMG_8944

It seems that we’ve kind of figured them out. The keys to defeating a powerful offense like the Thunder sound something like this:

o   Keep them out of the paint

o   Force them to shoot tough, mid-range jumpers

o   Contest their threes

o   Force turnovers and capitalize on them

That’s the only way to beat the Thunder, and after Game 3, you can put a check mark by each one. It was our second overtime game in a row. It’s not the easy way to do it, but no one ever said grit n grind was the easy way.

Tony Allen is doing what he does best. He’s effectively stopping Kevin Durant in a way no other defender can. Sure Durant is still scoring 30+ points as ESPN likes to remind us daily, but he’s taking more shots than ever to get that done. I feel like this series is a waiting game- we’re all just waiting for Durant to go off. As I sit here and write this post, I’ve already seen Durant on two commercials in five minutes. Its like the basketball gods are dangling him in front of me, hinting at the inevitable.

Much of our success is likely due to Joerger’s exquisite coaching. He’s schemed the team perfectly, and the game plan is spot on- force Durant and Westbrook to take the tough jumpshots. Credit should be given to Tony Allen and Courtney Lee for being the ones to contest those jump shots. Tony Allen is the thorn in Durant’s side right now, and simply put, its hilarious. It never gets old.

(Photo Cred: Jason Smith's Twitter)

(Photo Cred: Jason Smith’s Twitter)

Tony has definitely earned those podium interviews.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking forward to Game 4, nothing should change. It will never be easy, but we have a huge advantage in the FedEx Forum. Russell Westbrook may not have been familiar with the Grindhouse, but the boys definitely gave him the full tour on Thursday night. That’s the great thing about the Grizzlies- they don’t expect to be respected. They earn respect by playing hard every night and giving Memphis something to Believe in. And I Believe tonight’s going to be a good night.

IMG_0813OKC @ Memphis

9:30 pm (ET)

ESPN

 

-Casey Black

Bound 4

We did it. Grizz Nation hurled constant positive energy in the mix and we did it. The Grizz have made the playoffs for the fourth season in a row (hence the Kanye West play on words in the title). We hit 50 wins on the season, but more importantly, we dodged the Spurs, ladies and gentlemen. But what now?

 

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

You have to admit it’s pretty funny: all of this focus on achieving the 7th spot. We detested sitting in the 8th spot, not because we were at the bottom of the pack; because we were on the fast track to facing the most formidable NBA team in recent memory. The funniest part of the whole thing is that the Western Conference regular season ended as a “Don’t Play the Spurs Bowl” (as my friend Clayton so eloquently put it). While defeating the Mavs and stealing the 7th seed in that last game of the season, I wasn’t thinking about victory. No no. I was laughing and thinking, “Have fun with the Spurs, suckas.” The Spurs haunt my dreams and for good reason.

Maybe the joke’s on us. If this was the Eastern Conference, Grizz Nation would be looking at a 3 seed. The competition in our conference is disgustingly fantastic. The combined regular season wins of all Western Conference teams is the most in history since the 8-team playoff format. 

We did all that work just so we could avoid Pop and his incredibly efficiently yet boring lineup. And look what we’ve got now- one of the most exciting teams in the NBA, The Oklahoma City Thunder. But we play that game better than anyone. We’re exciting and thrilling and, at times, wonderfully horrifying. 

Here’s what we’re working with:

Game 1, April 19, Memphis at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m. EST (ESPN)

Game 2, April 21, Memphis at Oklahoma City, 8:00 p.m. EST (TNT)

Game 3, April 24, Oklahoma City at Memphis, 8:00 p.m. EST (TNT)

Game 4, April 26, Oklahoma City at Memphis, 9:30 p.m. EST (ESPN)

Game 5, April 29, Memphis at Oklahoma City, TBA (if necessary)

Game 6, May 1, Oklahoma City at Memphis, TBA (if necessary)

Game 7, May 3, Memphis at Oklahoma City, TBA (if necessary)

 

(Photo Cred- Joe Murphy)

(Photo Cred- Joe Murphy)

 

So, I’d like to say congrats to Joerger for his title of Western Conference Coach of the Month. Oh, and he also just wrote himself into the Grizzlies history books with this playoff appearance in his first season as head coach.

Let’s take this post season one game at a time. I’m not going to speculate or make any predictions today. This could really go either way- since our last meeting on February 28, the Thunder haven’t been playing their best and we’ve done relatively well. I do, however, have a hunch that we could split the first two games in OKC. Just a hunch.

Until then, you can find me at Silky’s watching it all unfold with greatest folks on the planet. Yeah, that’s right. I’m in Memphis.

Memphis Grizzlies @ OKC Thunder

ESPN

Tipoff: 8:30 pm (ET)

 

Man Down

Grizz Nation always loves their team in the national spotlight. Any coverage on ESPN is good coverage, especially leading up to the playoffs right?

Ehhh…. this isn’t what we had in mind. 

Joe Murphy

Joe Murphy

 

No word from Calathes on Twitter yet, but he has come out with a statement.

In a phone interview with USA Today, Calathes says,

“I deeply regret my actions and apologize to my teammates and the organization for my poor judgment. Let me be clear: I never too any medication whatsoever for a performance-enhancing reason. I don’t agree with this outcome, and I will come back a better player and person when I return.”

Here’s the science-y part:

Tamoxifen is the drug found in Calathes’s system. The funny thing about Tamoxifen is that it is typically used by athletes to reduce the side effects of steroids. More commonly, its used to treat breast cancer. SO many questions.

Just when we were getting comfy with Calathes. #smh

Calathes was named the 5th best rookie this season by ESPN’s Power Rankings. The NBA confirmed Calathes’s suspension Friday night- it’s 20 games, so virtually the whole post season and then some (assuming we don’t make a wild run for the Finals).

Here’s a statement from a lawyer representing Calathes according to ESPN.com:

“Our tests identified tamoxifen in a supplement Nick used for a legitimate medical condition and our tests confirmed that Nick did not have testosterone or any other PED in his body- thereby rebutting the presumption that he used tamoxifen to offset the side effects of testosterone use,” he said. “Despite this irrefutable, objective scientific evidence, the NBA’s response was, ‘Oh well.’

 

Photo cred- hoopshype.com

Photo cred- hoopshype.com

 

 

 

We know, Nick. It hurts.

 

 

 

-Casey Black

Heading West

Last night, the Memphis Grizzlies took care of Grizzness and placed themselves in the Western Conference Playoffs.

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

For now at least.

While the Grizzlies playoff plans are not concrete, this win had many meanings.

Sure, the Grizz just beat one of the worst teams in the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers. They also met their franchise record (previously set last season) of 13 consecutive home wins. Currently, they sit in the 8th spot with just three games remaining, desperately needing the momentum looking toward a short road trip out west. Here’s the really interesting part: our next game is in Phoenix against the team that is literally neck-and-neck with us right now. Things are about to get interesting; not that they haven’t been all season. During the game on Thursday night, the Grizzlies were on their phones at halftime, checking the score of the Suns-Spurs game. Whether or not you agree with this practice, if you’re looking at this blog, you probably understand the gravity these two matchups had for playoff hopes.

 

 

A Grizzlies win and a Phoenix loss/San Antonio win meant so many things. The Spurs clinched the leading spot in the West and the Grizzlies overtook the Suns for the final slot.

Now. Every. Single. Game. Is. A. Must. Win.

We saw some influential players in this last game at home:

-Marc Gasol snagged a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

-Mike Miller contributed 19 glorious points to the 100+ win.

-Nick Calathes continued his solid contribution with 12 points and Zach Randolph with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Side note: I love awkward moments, and there’s nothing quite as fantastically awkward as a drafted and dumped player returning to the FedEx Forum. I’m talking about Tony Wroten, but he handled the situation well and put up 18 points.

(Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

(Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

Looking forward, summer vacation is far away for the Grizzlies. They’ve got three more games to stay in the playoffs; two more games against teams who surround us in the standings- the Dallas Mavericks in the 7th spot and the Phoenix Suns in the 9th. We must win these two games, and grabbing a win against the Lakers would be feasible and incredibly helpful.

It’s not going to be easy, but its pretty simple. Three wins and we’re in. If we lose a game, things will get tricky. So, when my non-obsessed Grizz friends ask me if we’re in the playoffs, I always give them one answer.

It depends.

Don’t you love a little mystery?

 

 

-Casey Black

Six Games

The playoffs have already begun for the Grizzlies.

The Rundown

Let’s jump right into it. Of the four Western Conference teams jockeying for the final spots in the playoffs, Memphis has the easiest remaining schedule. The much needed win last night against Denver leaves six games standing between us and our post season dreams. Fascinatingly enough, our next two games are versus the two best teams in the NBA (according to playoff seeding, not wins).

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 5.51.53 PM

(ESPN.com)

First we head to San Antonio to play our archenemies. Then we’ve got Miami at home on Wednesday. I hate to say it, but I think honesty is the best policy- I’m not naïve enough to think we’ll win both of these. Let’s just be realistic and shoot for one victory. Once we fight past those juggernauts, we’ll face the 76ers and the Lakers. Now, the real test will be the final two games of the season. These two are must wins, and I have no doubt in my mind that the Grizzlies will be clawing at a playoff spot in the final moments of the regular season. Would we want it any other way?

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 5.52.15 PM

(ESPN.com)

Best Case Scenario

We end up dodging San Antonio and clinching the 7th spot in the West.

We haven’t defeated the Spurs this year. Actually, we haven’t beaten them since before last year’s playoff embarrassment when they swept us in the Western Conference Finals. Popovich and Duncan aren’t going to let anyone keep them from getting that final championship ring of their illustrious career together. We definitely want to play the Thunder. Sure they’ve got the likely MVP, Kevin Durant, but they’ve been slightly inconsistent since Westbrook’s injury. We showed our stuff against them in the second round of the playoffs. It’s not ideal at all; just a more comfortable position.

Hypothetically, if we get past the Thunder we would play the Clippers or Golden State, both ideal match ups for this Grizzlies team. So, let’s just say we make it to the Western Conference Finals. Aaaaaand, that’s where my speculation ends. From what I deduce, no one, anywhere can challenge the Spurs this season (except maybe the Thunder who have been successful against them in the regular season).

 Worst Case Scenario

After skimming through my “Best Case Scenario,” you can probably figure out what the worst case will be. If Memphis lands in the 8th spot and faces the Spurs, we’ll be in a pickle. I don’t like to get too negative on here, so I’ll refrain from sharing the nasty details of this scenario. We just really really REALLY don’t want to play the Spurs.

Travis and I will have lots more to say as the story unfolds.

And, just so you know…

 

 

(Jack Dempsey)

(Jack Dempsey)

Wish Tayshaun the best. Now, let’s take care of Grizzness.

-Casey Black