Thursday, May 16, 2013

Who Got Da Props: Memphis Stays Fly

As much as I focused on the predictable blame game that's going to happen in Oklahoma City, I should also give Memphis a ton of props because I've loved how they played the last two playoff rounds. It's old school, it's physical, it's smart hoops that any fan of the game should admire.

Props to Mike Conley, who has become by default the best player from his highly recruited Ohio State of 2006. Seven years ago, who would've thought that he'd have a better pro career than Greg Oden and Daequan Cook.

Conley's gotten a lot of heat most of his career but I loved how aggressive he is on both sides of the floor. He dominated the Thunder without Russell Westbrook guarding him and I think he's grown a lot more comfortable with who he is as a player.

Props to Zach Randolph, who's reminding us why he's one of the toughest matchups in basketball. You get dap for owning Blake Griffin in Round 1 and abusing Kendrick Perkins/Serge Ibaka in Round 2.

Besides Conley, Z-Bo was the biggest difference maker against OKC. He ended the series with 23 and 12/28 and 14 and when he's motivated, he's one of the best traditional big men in the game. As he goes, so goes Memphis.

Props to the Good Reverend Lionel Hollins, who's done a masterful coaching job in the last year of his contract. As the spiritual leader of his flock, he's made Memphis into one of the West's best teams and as

I'd recommend reading Grantland's Jonathan Abrams' masterful insight into Hollins' style. Hollins has made this team in his image and it's not just wonderful thuggery - it's hustle, it's crafting Marc Gasol into a Defensive Player of the Year, it's turning Tony Allen loose as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.

All the credit should go to Rev. Hollins, who's done maybe the best coaching job this postseason in getting those boys ready and steady.

Say what you want about the Thunder not having Russell Westbrook but Memphis took this series by the throat. A great team of guys buying into a solid system will always beat a team of 1-2 great superstars and a bunch of role players. At this point, I pray the Western Conference Finals goes 7 games because it'll be a fun to watch San Antonio or Golden State try to deal with Memphis' throwback style.

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