The Clippers-Grizzlies series has been one of the better of the first round. All the games have been close, there have been dramatic comebacks, and there’s been a fair share of mutual hatred. From that hatred comes altercations that were fine in an older NBA. Bumps, shoves, and elbows used to be a staple, but now they result in a free two points for the other team.
Last night, Reggie Evans got in the Grizzlies heads like I’ve never seen done before. He’s always been a physical pest and generally annoying player to play against, but last night, he revealed the true weakness in the Grizzlies game, they just aren’t mental champions. They have the athleticism, size and talent to compete with any team, yet they find themselves falling short in every way. Evans played a physical game and jawed any chance he got. He set a pick on O.J. Mayo that scared him into looking over his shoulder like a followed pedestrian rushing for his car. Zach Randolph picked up a technical after battling with Blake Griffin all series, finally letting his frustration get to him.
Griffin’s flopping and physical play has gotten under Memphis skin just as much as Evans position as a nuisance. Before the playoffs, analysts gave the Grizzlies a good chance to advance farther than expected. They cited their size and last year’s performance against the Spurs as reasons for hope. However, for all their talent and matchup advantages, the Grizzlies just have the vibes of a team bound to fall short time and time again. Last night’s mental lapses proved that until Memphis finds a rhythm and comfort zone, they’ll constantly be outsiders.