For the first time in franchise history, the Memphis Grizzlies reached the conference finals and stood four games away from teh NBA Finals. Unfortunately the familiar tune of a sweep — something longtime Grizzlies fans know all too well — ended their Playoff run.
Sure, Memphis certainly benefited from Russell Westbrook's absence and Oklahoma City having to figure out how to replace a major part of its offense. But still, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol running their way through the Western Conference was a sight for sore eyes and this gritty, defensive-minded team had a lot of attitude and personality. One that resonated.
Of course the Spurs and their 3-point shooting resonated too.
To counter and see if the Grizzlies can get to that next level, they have brought back perhaps the best 3-point shooter in the franchise's history. Recently amnestied Mike Miller signed a deal with the Grizzlies for the veteran's minimum, the Grizzlies having reportedly won the amnesty bid.
Miller was reportedly thinking of signing with the Thunder, but he has gone to the "other side" so to speak.
Miller has had to fight off injuries that have plagued him for much of his late career. Still, last year Miller shot 41.7 percent from beyond the arc in the 59 games he appeared in. During the Playoffs, Miller made 16 of his 36 3-point attempts in 13.6 minutes per game in MIami's championship run.
He is a very gifted shooter still even at 33 years old and fighting knee and back issues.
For the Grizzlies though, he provides something they lacked: 3-point shooting.
The Grizzlies finished last in the league in both 3-point makes and 3-point attempts last year. For whatever reason — might have been Lionel Hollins' philosophy or simply the roster the team had — Memphis was not a spread-them-out 3-point shooting team, like many of the best teams in the league have become.
That was good enough for Memphis throughout the Playoffs and the regular season. The Spurs though exposed this wart.
San Antonio won the four games by an average margin of 11 points per game and Memphis cracked the 90-point mark just once in the four-game series. And the Grizzlies needed overtime to do it.
In the series, Memphis made 22 of 63 attempts in the four game series (34.9 percent) and the Spurs were 32 for 85 (37.6 percent). That was enough of a difference to give San Antonio the easy series sweep. The best 3-point shooter that got regular time during the Playoffs was Quincy Pondexter at 39.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
To say the least, Memphis needed the 3-point boost.
That is what the Grizzlies hope Mike Miller can give them. Just having one knock-down 3-point shooter should help spread the floor out more for the Memphis offense.
Now the trick is getting Miller through an entire season healthy. Because he will be no use to the Grizzlies is his bad back acts up again.