When the Memphis Grizzlies take the floor of the FedExForum on Thursday night, the buzz from the Game 2 victory in Oklahoma City will have given way to the delirium of hosting Game 3 knotted at a game apiece.
The Game 2 overtime win was a battle that few could argue was not an instant classic. And the bulk of those who would proffer such a position most likely live in Oklahoma and live and die with Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder.
In the Bluff City, however, there is no doubt. The 111-105 victory was monstrously rewarding and oh, so unforgettable, at least for Grizz fans. The Memphis players, however, don't have the luxury of dwelling on a memory. You can't beat super-All Star Durant with a memory.
For several agonizing minutes, there was serious doubt that there would even be such a memory. The Thunder reached deep into their bag of winning ways and pulled out an incredible – many still don't believe it – four-point play courtesy of Durant that seemed to signal that they could not be stopped in their comeback bid.
But OKC doesn't have the "Grindfather" known as Tony Allen, Zach "Z-bo" Randolph, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Mike Miller and a host of other cast members, including newcomer Beno Udrih ...., who was, well, incredible as the backup point guard on a team for which he only has played two games.
Sure Durant went crazy, again, but he had to really work to get there, thanks to a team-defense that was powered by Allen.
"All I could do was stay alert on Kevin Durant for each 24 seconds (of the shot) clock," said Allen in a postgame interview. (Ninety percent of the offense is ran through him.)
Conley said "KD" is going to do what he does, adding that you don't see many take the challenge the way Allen does."Tony makes it tough on him every night and that's all you can ask for."
For Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger, it was Playoffs victory number one as the Memphis head coach. Asked about Allen, he said, "His heart is so big. His motor is so big. And you add to that the elements of the toughness he has and the experience he has and the work ethic..."
Allen said a team such as OKC is going to score and, "We just got to be ready to weather the storm and play our style of basketball. That's grit and grind."
So it's on to Game 3. The 100-86 thumping the Grizz took in Game 1 has been soothed by the second game's heroics. And the FedExForum, aka the "Grindhouse," is where the Grizzlies have won 14 straight games.
Game 3 is set to tip at 7 p.m. and will be televised on TNT. Presented by First Tennessee and Toyota, there will be a "Believe Memphis" Yellow Playoff Growl Towel for every fan in attendance. Game 4 on Saturday is scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. and will be presented by FedEx. And yes, there will be more of the growl towels. Television coverage will be on ESPN.