http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/3/15/8214505/grizzlies-marc-gasol-mike-conley-nba-playoffs-sunday-shootaroundMarc Gasol said he only had a few minutes, which was fine because he needed less than two to say everything that needed to be said about the 2014-15 Memphis Grizzlies, a team in the midst of both the finest season in franchise history and a late-season malaise that hints at all of their worst nightmares.
"We understand," Gasol said. "We know. We’ve been together for a while now and the window is right now. We’re in our prime. Our maturity level and our talent are both balanced. We’re at a point where we have to do it. Of course, nothing guarantees you making it all the way. Work ethic and consistency, we believe, that gives you a lot of chances more than anything else."
We can go on here and talk about the simple, yet age-old quandary the Grizzlies must solve in order to get through the treacherous Western Conference.
"Got to make shots," coach Dave Joerger says. "We have got to make shots. That’s where our money is."
Or, we can dive into what has been a very different set of dynamics for a team that has occupied one of the top two spots in the Western Conference all season long thanks to a 17-2 start to the season. That was in stark contrast to last year’s grueling struggle to secure the eighth spot in the West and a major point of emphasis in training camp.
"We’ve had a different outlook on the season," point guard Mike Conley says. "We’ve been the 2, 3 seed so we haven’t had to fight our way back in. So now we’re dealing with the positive comments and people saying the Grizzlies are a good team. That’s a whole different animal for us."
We should probably take a moment to talk about why that high seed might not even matter in the West where Oklahoma City (probably) and San Antonio (definitely) are lurking in the lower half of the bracket.
"I really like our team. A lot," Joerger says. "I don’t know that seeding matters this year. When San Antonio is healthy and Oklahoma City is healthy, they’re the two best teams in the NBA. What Golden State has done is fantastic. It’s awesome. Oklahoma City and San Antonio are six and eight, seven and eight depending on the day. Certainly the higher seed has an opportunity to play a Game 7 at home, but it’s going to be wide open, I think."
But really, when we talk about the Memphis Grizzlies, we’re talking about a core of players who have been together for more than half a decade. They have thrilling upsets and a stirring run to the conference finals among their achievements, and they also have the sting of three Game 7 losses in the back of their minds.
They have stayed together far longer than other comparable groups because A) they fit so well together and B) you got any better ideas? Assuming Gasol re-signs in the offseason, they should be intact for a few more years, as well. But they may never have a better chance than right now.
"Yeah," Conley says. "We talk about it. Here and now. Here, now, is what we want. We can’t wait for the future. We’re seven, eight years into this thing. We’ve got to go for it and that’s what we’re going to do."