Mike Conley And The Grizzlies Succeeded In “Being aggressive and throwing the first punch” Against the Spurs

April 19, 2011 – 7:45 am by Steven Cuce

The NBA playoffs started off with a bang last weekend with virtually every playoffs series in both conferences being competitive down to the finish. Over in the Western Conference, we saw once again how deep the “Wild West” can be with monster upsets by the #7 New Orleans Hornets and #8 Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis took on an San Antonio team that has virtually cruised all year long with the best record in the West and the second best record overall in all of basketball.

None of that mattered to the Grizzlies. Memphis took it to San Antonio with the help of Zach Randolph adding twenty-five points and Shane Battier hitting a go-ahead three-pointer with 23.9 seconds remaining, giving the Grizzlies their first ever playoff win for the organization, who had been 0-12 in four previous playoff series. Now we’ll have to see what kind of resolve the battle tested Spurs have in game two to be able to bounce back.  At first glance, the reports of the Grizzlies tanking the last two games to play the Spurs in the first round instead of the Lakers was a wise one.

Mike Conley joined WHBQ in Memphis with Greg Gaston and Eli Savoie to discuss the Grizzlies having the composure to make plays down the stretch when it meant the most in game one against the Spurs, the Grizzlies not backing down to anyone, how different the intensity was of the first playoff game compared to the regular season, how do you take the momentum from game one and transfer it into game two and if was he surprised the officials called such a tight game during game one.

Talk about having the composure to make plays down the stretch when it means the most?

“We understand that in the playoffs being poised and having composure is a big factor in winning those games. We knew coming into San Antonio would be a tough matchup every night and that we were going to have to play together during all four quarters and not make mistakes in the last two minutes. I think the guys really focused in and kept our composure down the stretch. Like you said Shane [Battier] made the big shot, but on the defensive end everybody really tuned in and was able to do good on their matchups and help positions by communicating and getting rebounds.”

Talk about this team not backing down to anybody?

“This team is very, very, physical. We have a lot of guys like Tony [Allen] and Shane [Battier], you know Leon Powe, guys who are really defensive minded, that have brought a different kind of attitude to this team. I think everyone has fed off that early in the season and right now you don’t even need to tell anybody or need to get anybody hyped for the game. I think everybody individually has done a good job preparing themselves for the game. Last night we had a great team effort defensively against Tony Parker and different guys on that team. We just wanted to physical and be aggressive first and throw the first punch. It is hard to win in San Antonio. They had a great record here all year.”

In your first playoff game how different was the intensity compared to a regular season game?

“It felt like it was a night-and-day difference at first. The crowd was into the game as soon as the ball was tipped. I’ve never been in a gym that loud before and I think after the first four or five minutes it kind of settled down. You know the adrenaline wore off a little bit and you know from than on it was just basketball. I think that’s what helped us get through once we realized you know it is a playoff game, but at the same time it’s still basketball. We were able to play our game and get away with a win.”

How do you take the momentum from game one and use it to your advantage in game two of the series?

“First off we have to be professional about it. We have to stay humble. We have to realize you know we’re not here to win one game. We want to win the series, but we gotta go back in with even more focus because we understand they didn’t have [Manu] Ginobili and if he comes back they’re going to be hungry. They’re going to want to show what happened last game was a fluke or whatever they feel, so we gotta come out ready to go and be ready for the all punches they’re going to throw and be ready for another physical night.”

Did you expect game one to be called that tight by the officials?

“I did not. I did not. I expected it to you know be a game with you know few free throws, few fouls and it would still be a physical game, but it really was you know coming down the stretch. There were a lot of fouls being called. It was a really physical game, but from what I had heard before the playoffs we’re going to physical and to not expect calls and things like that. It was a lot different, a lot different of an outcome, I guess.”

Listen to Mike Conley on WHBQ in Memphis with Greg Gaston and Eli Savoie

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