MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins has told his players to ignore the nonsense that says no team has ever come back from the 3-0 hole they have dug against the so-far unflappable San Antonio Spurs.
“My hope is for us to not listen to you guys [the media] and say that it’s never been done before and it’s just a matter of time before the series is over, and to reach down in their souls and dig for something they didn’t know they had,” Hollins said. “Because that’s what you have to do to win a championship.”
The Grizzlies took the practice floor on Sunday for possibly the final time in this historic season that has seen a franchise-record 56 wins and a first-ever trip to the West finals. It is possible that Hollins could be coaching in his final game with the Grizzlies. His contract expires next month.
But that is a subject for a different day. The Grizzlies were doing their best to keep spirits up and talking about pride on and how to extend their season one game at a time.
“We have a lot of pride in this team and this city,” point guard Mike Conley said. “It’s more than just basketball here. And we owe it to ourselves, owe it to the fans to not get swept and embarrassed on our home court.”
The Grizz have lost three in a row for the first time since back in January. In each round of the postseason they’ve had to come from behind. They trailed the Los Angeles Clippers 2-0 and Oklahoma City 1-0. Both times they came back to win four in a row. It’s now the only option left after dropping consecutive overtime decisions.
“We have to understand that we still could have won those games and it easily could have been 2-1 in our favor,” Conley said. “We should be confident enough in ourselves and believe in ourselves that we can win and extend the series.”
But bouncing back from Saturday’s loss, the Grizzlies’ first of the postseason at The Grindhouse, won’t be easy. They played a near-flawless first quarter and opened an 18-point lead. It was whittled down to four by halftime and in OT the Spurs cruised to the victory.
A desperation win Monday night would shift the series back to San Antonio for Game 5 on Wednesday and then a potential Game 6 in Memphis on Friday.
“Now you have no margin of error,” Marc Gasol said. “We have a lot of pride and we don’t quit. You get swept, you get swept, but you’ve got to play as hard as you can. We play hard. You look at at both games, they both went to overtime. They played better than us in both overtimes, but we fought back and we came out the way we’re supposed to and we had a lot of pride.”