The first goal for the Grizzlies in 2010-11 was to make the playoffs. The second was to not get swept. They accomplished that and more, despite not having their second-best scorer since the All-Star break.
What Memphis did without Rudy Gay was astonishing, becoming the second No. 8 seed in history to win a first-round seven-game playoff series over a No. 1 seed when they stunned San Antonio.
And the Grizzlies pushed the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games in the Western Conference semifinals before losing Game 7 on the Thunder's home court.
"I'm proud of this incredible run," said Grizzlies forward Shane Battier, the Grizzlies' first-round draft choice in 2001 who played five years for the team, was traded to Houston on draft night 2006 and played with the Rockets until February, when he was traded back to Memphis. "One of my buddies said that it was like watching a crazy sports movie where a hodgepodge bunch, a ragtag group of guys, come together and almost win a championship. It really was almost like a sports comedy in a lot of ways.
"Take a bit of 'Bad News Bears,' a bit of 'Major League,' a bit of 'Caddyshack,' and call it the Memphis Grizzlies playoff run."
But at the end of the run, it was clear what the Grizzlies lacked. Their offseason priority, besides re-signing restricted free agent center Marc Gasol, is to find a few more outside shooters, maybe another big body inside and possibly another backup point guard.
"We want Marc back if he wants to come back," Grizzlies majority owner Michael Heisley said.
Gasol averaged 11.7 points and 7 rebounds in the regular season, but he was huge in the playoffs, averaging 15 points and 11.2 rebounds in 13 postseason games.
Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said the team would tender Gasol a $4.46 million qualifying offer that triggers his restricted free agent status.
Forward Zach Randolph said that when he re-signed with the team last month that he was promised Gasol would also be re-signed.
"It's really important that we keep him," Randolph said. "He told me he wants to be back. We all get along with each other. We care about each other. We're a family."
For a team with a playoff history that involved an 0-12 record and being swept three times in the playoffs, getting its first playoff win ever in Game 1 of the first-round series at San Antonio was huge, followed by clinching the series in Game 6 in Memphis. The Game 1 win had a perfect ending. Shane Battier, who had never won a playoff game in his previous stint with the Grizzlies, hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds, then found out an hour later that his wife had given birth in Houston to their second child, a daughter.
"That was a storybook day," Battier said. "Not just because I hit a big shot, and it was the day my daughter was born. We won a playoff game for the city of Memphis. The feeling of winning a playoff game in a Griz uniform was pretty awesome."
The Grizzlies won four consecutive games entering the All-Star break, and they were feeling pretty good about themselves at 31-26. That is, until they received the news that forward Rudy Gay, who had averaged 19.8 points and 6.2 rebounds as the Grizzlies' best clutch outside shooter, was going to be sidelined for the year with a partially dislocated left shoulder that required surgery. Critics said the Grizzlies were finished, but they went 15-10 without Gay to qualify for the playoffs.
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