MEMPHIS — The towels are showing up all around Memphis. They hang over neighborhood signs and even at a door to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The sentiment? Believe Memphis.
The Grizzlies certainly do.
Yes, they are down 0-2 to San Antonio in their first Western Conference final, but they take heart in knowing they dug themselves out of an 0-2 hole in the first round against the Clippers.
No NBA team has won separate series in the same postseason after losing the first two games. The Grizzlies now see only opportunity at home, where they have yet to lose this postseason.
“We got to believe,” Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph said. “We got to be confident. We got to believe. Game 2 went down, we came all the way back and went to overtime, so we got to have that confidence and we got to believe in ourselves.”
Game 3 is Saturday night.
“Believe Memphis” is the slogan first printed on giveaway towels for fans in the 2011 playoffs, which they held up instead of waving, trying to will the Grizzlies to victory late in a game against Oklahoma City. Yes, the Grizzlies won that game in overtime, and it’s been a catch-phrase since then for this small market team in a town best known for its barbecue and music.
Fans are ready for the latest biggest home game in team history, and the Grizzlies hear all the excitement every time they go outside. So they are busy trying to focus on business.
“We’re down 0-2 and we’ve got to take care of home just like they took care of home,” Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said Friday. “Simple as that.”
The Grizzlies’ confidence also stems from a return to the arena they call the “Grindhouse.” They set a franchise record winning 32 games there this season, and they are 19-1 here since Feb. 8. Memphis also has lost three straight only twice this season, the last in mid-January.