The 1st Annual All Heart in Hoop City Grizzlies’ Playoffs Blog Panel by Grizznation

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The 2014-2015 NBA playoffs are here. The Memphis Grizzlies will take on the Portland Trail Blazers in Round 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. All Heart has collaborated with fans of Grizznation for their input and thoughts regarding the Grizzlies and this playoffs series. The participants consists of 4 males and 4 females.

Panel Introduction

Alec Wilson is owner of MemphiCity Design who is a lifelong basketball and NBA fan. And he’s been loving the Grizzlies since the move to Memphis in 2001.

Elizabeth Smith wasn’t into basketball as much until her son starting playing in middle school. She decided to become a season ticket holder in 2010-2011. She says it’s one of the best decisions she ever made for her family.  It started out as a way for her to bond with her son, but the Memphis Grizzlies have turned her into a card-carrying, bear wearing, stat-watching, basketball crazy member of GrizzNation!

Jason Harlow, a Memphis native is a writer and producer and has been a Grizzlies fan since the 2005-2006 season.

Kathy Wilson lived in San Antonio and was a Spurs fan for many years. She was converted as a Grizz fan when the team moved to Memphis in 2001. Nothing comes in between her and her Grizzlies. The Grizz fandom runs in the family.

Jamar Jennings is a California bred Navy brat who moved to Memphis after his dad retired. He became a fan in the inaugural season for the Grizzlies. The Pyramid will always hold a special place in his heart. Jamar says, “the tomb of doom…the Grindhouse gets loud but the Pyramid…with a sold out playoff crowd was deafening.”

Portia Carr- McClaine is a married mother of 7 who has been a Grizzlies fan since 2001. Her husband Kelvin of 13 years took her on a first date to a Grizz game. (Grizzlies keeping families together) She also is a season ticket holder.

Martin Cottrell has been a fan since the inaugural season for the Memphis Grizzlies. He love the game of basketball and is a huge fan of Memphis sports. He has a fiance’ and 5 yr old he’s trying to convert into Grizzlies fans.

Constance Kirby is an administrator of the largest Grizzlies fan Facebook Group, Grizznation. She’s an avid sports fan – Grizzlies and Titans. Constance has been a Grizzlies fan since they came to Memphis 14 yrs ago and a season ticket holder for 12 yrs.

Panel Discussion

1) This season has been an up and down season for the Grizzlies. What has the season meant to you?

Alec — This season has been great. Probably the best team we’ve ever assembled with high expectations.

Elizabeth — This season has definitely not been for the faint of heart.  The team has had ups and downs, with the fans getting carried along for the ride.  It hasn’t always been pretty, but really, when has Grizz basketball ever been pretty?  The season started out so hot. We were #1 in the League, which is no small feat!  When the roller coaster part of the season started and so many started jumping off the bandwagon, I wasn’t really surprised. It has been this way the whole time I have been a basketball fan.  I continue to stand by this team though.  The second half of this season has been rough and frustrating. I’ve yelled in victory and been near tears in defeat. But I have never given up on this team. This season has made me even more grateful for every time I get to be in the Grindhouse cheering my team on.

Jason — I wasn’t entirely sold on the Grizzlies at first. After the back-to-back victories over the Warriors and the Spurs in December (both of which we great games), I thought this team could potentially have a chance to win the West. And once the Jeff Green trade was made, I thought for sure the Grizz would become an unstoppable force. Then the team began to lose a lot of steam after the All-Star break. I’m just hoping the squad can get it together now that it matters more than ever. If everyone stays healthy throughout the postseason, this could end up being one of the most memorable years in franchise history. No matter what happens though, there have been some incredible moments this season, and it’s been a great run.

Kathy — We all were on such a high with the Grizzlies’ performance before the All-Star break; I know I was! We seemed invincible. The thing that frustrated me the most about our performance following the break was Marc Gasol’s sometimes immature behavior, such as sitting on the court pouting and risking a delay of game penalty. He seemed the antithesis of who he was the first part of the season. However, he seems to have turned things around now and returned to his true self. This gives me great hope for our performance during the playoffs. Additionally, I am thrilled with the performance of our rookies! I hope they will get real minutes during the playoffs. I view them as our secret weapon!

Jamar Jennings — This season has really taught me to be humble. With us bringing in Vince and having our core return I really had high hopes of a Championship run…A dominant Championship run. I also had hung the Division Title banner in the Grindhouse by the time we hit the All Star break…but then we hit a slump and had some injuries and things leveled out. And before I knew it we had fallen from 2 to 5 and had given Houston the Division…nonetheless this season has one major meaning to me…Perseverance. Yes the Grizz hit a slump. Yes the Grizz have looked out of sync. But none of that matters now. We made it the playoffs. Records go out the window. Now it comes down to winning or going home. Just because you go through hard times during the season…that doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to have an early playoff exit. The great teams know how to fight through adversity and stick together. This team has shown that this year. I’m very much looking forward to these Playoffs. But I’m remaining humble and remembering that one word…Perseverance. If we get blown out a game…that doesn’t mean we can’t win the next one…and vice versa..just because we blow out a team..that doesn’t mean we can’t lose the next game….so humbleness and perseverance are the two strongest things I’ve taken from the season thus far.

Portia Carr—McClaine — This season has definitely been a inspiration to me & it has given me continuous hope that the Grizzlies are a excellent team of choice because of their willingness to satisfy their fans and bring them excitement on the court. With all the ups and downs I never stopped believing.  I’ve felt all year this was our turn to bring the championship home.

Martin Cottrell — This season represents to me true grit n grind. This team set the tone starting the season out great, went through the dog days of the season (bumpy), and finished strong. This season is example of life sometimes you have great days others not so great, but you can never get to high or to low in the game of life or the game of basketball.

Constance Kirby — This season has meant a lot. We came out firing in the first half of the season. I had hope that we could keep it up, but I know it’s a long season. I am happy that we finally got back on track at the end of the season. I’m excited about the playoffs. I know that we will bring it during the playoffs and get back on track in our quest for the Championship.

2) What are your thoughts for the Grizzlies/Blazers match up? Prediction

Alec — We owned the Blazers in the regular season and I expect to own them in this series. We could possibly sweep them but I doubt it will go more than 5 games.

Elizabeth — Grizzlies/Blazers will in no way be a cakewalk. The Blazers are an NBA team with pride.  They have All Stars on their team just as we do. Grizz fans should in no way discount this team and what they can do. I do feel that we were almost lucky to get another team that has been hit as hard with the injury bug as we are.  Aldridge is a beast when he gets going. Lillard is clutch. However, I think that Grizz take this round.  I believe Grizz will win in 6, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it went to 7 just to drive Grizz fans insane.  I hope our Grizz don’t take the Blazers as lightly as some of the fans seem to be doing…

Jason — The Blazers are going to come out looking very strong in attempt to steal one of the first two games and take the home court advantage from the Grizzlies. Some of the games will be very fun and competitive, but ultimately, the Blazers will be no match for the Grizzlies’ perimeter defense and interior banging. Grizzlies will win the series in 5 games, with the Blazer’s lone win being in Game 3 on their floor.

Kathy — We owned the Blazers during the regular season and I expect nothing less in post-season play. We have — or appear to have — our starters back in the line-up and coach now knows the kind of performance our bench can produce. Even with the exhilaration and heightened performances typical of post-season play, I expect the Grizzlies to dominate the Blazers, particularly with home-court advantage. I expect the Grizzlies to sweep the Blazers in round one. If we do lose to them at all, I don’t think we’ll drop more than one game.

Jamar — At first I was disappointed with the match up because I was looking forward to Dallas. I assumed we would get the 2 seed. I also assumed we would be able to avoid Golden State and/or the Spurs until the Western Conference finals. But upon closer inspection I realized that this match up could actually turn out to be a basketball blessing in disguise. Portland is more banged up than we are. The good news is the fact that Conley and Allen are both suiting up for this series. The bad news. Neither one has played in awhile so they will have to get into game shape again. Get their grooves back. Since Portland is also banged up this is the best team for them to get back in game shape against. We may not need them to come out at 110% right away. If we had gotten the 2 seed…against Dallas it’s very possible we would have needed Conley and Allen to come in making plays right away. I feel like with Portland we’ll be able to ease them into the series. Allowing them to naturally get their grooves back instead of forcing it. As long as our bench and our young players keep playing the way they did to close out the season, I’m sure it won’t be a big deal if Conley and Allen have to play limited minutes at first. Also Lee revealed that he had been battling an injury as well but he expects to be back to full health soon. Hopefully he will be able to take it easy as well and do just enough to help us win. We need all of out players playing their best ball and at full health because if we do beat Portland we have a very tough matchup waiting on us. We’ll face the winner of the Golden State/New Orleans series. With that being said I expect Portland to put up a huge fight. It won’t be a cakewalk but the Grizz are great at winning close games. I say Grizz win the series 4-1. I expect them to take both games at the Grindhouse. Game 3 Portland will come out hot and will win at home…but Grizz regroup and take games 4 and 5.

Portia — I believe that it has been proven that through dedication, unity of team work, and consistent strategy that the Grizzlies can have successful defeat against the Blazers. Grizzlies in 5.

Martin — I predict the grizzlies to win the series in 6 games. Although injury riddled, I just think the Blazers have enough star power to shoulder the load and get at least 2 wins. Both teams are harnessing key injuries will be interesting to see adjustments made throughout the series. The key to us winning this series will be too much Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.

Constance — I predict that we will take the series in 4  games. We have to come out and play hard from the beginning of the game until the clock hits 00:00. We can’t overlook the Blazers, although we swept them in the regular season.

3) Do you think the coaching staff should utilize the young players off the bench? Why?

Alec — I think Jordan Adams should definitely be utilized. He should get the majority of back up SG minutes with Carter getting limited minutes depending on match up.

Elizabeth — Wow, this is a loaded question.  On one hand, I think that the young players should have been slowly brought along during the whole season.  Grizz need to groom the young guys for when our older players are ready to pass the torch for the future.  The Spurs have created the blueprint for this which is why they can play almost anyone on their bench and beat almost any team.  However, the playoffs is most def not the time to throw these young guys into the fire. Because of the GS comeback when our young guys gutted it out and got within 4 to almost win that game against the #1 team in the league, some think they should play in the playoffs.  I could be totally off base with this, but we should play the BEST players in the playoffs to give us our best chance at advancement.  We have some great players on our bench who are capable of helping this team win games for us, but they should be groomed from the beginning of the regular season, not in the playoffs.

Jason — If Jordan Adams doesn’t get a lot of minutes in the playoffs, that would be a shame. He has turned it on at the perfect time, and could easily help the Grizz win this first-round series if he ends up logging some decent minutes off the bench. Russ Smith is another guy who should definitely see the floor quite a bit if Conley’s minutes are restricted. Russ Smith and Jordan Adams could easily take Vince Carter and Nick Calathes’ minutes, but from what we know about Joerger, I wouldn’t say it’s very likely.

Kathy — I think our rookies have demonstrated that they are ready to take the court and stun the opposition. A great advantage here, actually, is their lack of playing time during the regular season: The other teams don’t have much tape to analyze to defend against our young players. Our rookies are a hidden advantage and give Coach Joerger an opportunity to mix things up during the playoffs, further bewildering our opponents. Moreover, we have a talented and deep bench that can keep our performance at the highest and most dangerous level, posing a real threat to any opponent. I sincerely hope Coach will make full use of this great weapon in our arsenal!

Jamar — Yes. I think they should utilize the young guys because the guys have shown that they can play. Adams and Green have both been playing some good minutes. So I think we should reward the young guys. Plus we might be able to catch our opponents off guard. Since neither guy has really played a lot during the season we can use them as our X factors. Of course that may only work one or two games…but hey every win counts since you only have to win 16 games in the playoffs in order to be crowned the NBA Champions. A feat easier said than done. And with scoring being that much more important in the playoffs the young guys could provide those needed extra points off the bench. Especially if Carter continues having this slump. You can never have too many scoring options in my opinion So I say let the young guys get their playoff feet wet!

Portia — It is my belief that the younger players should be utilized because of their ability to carry out potential and uncompromising victories as they have more stamina and have a driven hunger to prove themselves which could lead us to countless wins and the opportunity to redeem ourselves, the identity of the team, and create a larger fan base!!

Martin — I definitively think coaching staff should utilize our rookie Jordan Adams. I think he could be a huge help to us completing the ultimate goal of winning an NBA championship. He bring energy,youth, defense,and the guy is an impeccable shooter. I think we should stick with our normal rotations, but if Carter is playing the way he has been playing the last few weeks, I could see coach making an adjustment to get adams some spot minutes. Also Adams is not on scouting report for most teams so in a sense he is our secret weapon.

Constance — I think we can spell some of the starters with the young players for a few minutes. I like what Jordan Adam’s brings to the game and JaMychal Green as well. I think Jarnell Stokes is going to be a great back up for us, once he is able to get some playing time.

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