The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday to clinch the No. 6 seed in the West bracket of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The Grizzlies, however, sat their two most important starters (Zach Randolph and Tony Allen) in a strategic move to avoid the L.A. Lakers in the first round. The Blazers had no such fears about the two-time defending champs.
After the game, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins maintained that Allen, at least, was actually injured and couldn't go, but he can argue the point until he's blue in the face and not a soul will believe it. Portland played along, letting Memphis hold a lead into the third quarter before taking over down the stretch. Sam Young played more minutes than any other Grizzly (35), and O.J. Mayo earned 33 minutes despite a bad 5-13 shooting night.
Randolph won't play Wednesday against the Clippers; with a Grizzlies' loss or Hornets' win, Memphis would land in the No. 8 spot, thereby avoiding the Lakers but landing the Spurs. Some consolation prize! This is one small negative of races for playoff spots already being sewn up with the seeding left to be decided; coaches outsmart themselves and kill what would otherwise be contested, fun games.