The Memphis Grizzlies are going back to the NBA Playoffs. The Grizzlies clinched their bid for the 2011 postseason with a tight win over the Sacramento Kings in front of 16,000 fans at the FedEx Forum. Memphis hasn't made the playoffs since 2006, when Mike Fratello was the coach and Pau Gasol and Shane Battier were the stars. (Oddly enough, Battier's back, having been traded from the Houston Rockets -- who were eliminated in the course of the Grizzlies' clinching -- at midseason.)
This is Memphis' fourth postseason bid in franchise history, which dates back to the 1996 season in Vancouver. The Grizzlies have yet to win a playoff game after being swept out of the first round by the Spurs, Suns and Mavericks from 2004-06. The Grizzlies are currently in line to face 60-win San Antonio in the first round. But there's some reason for hope this time around. Memphis is playing well late in the season, having gone 14-8 since the All-Star break against a brutal schedule. The Spurs, meanwhile, have tailed off (despite three straight wins). The guard matchups would heavily favor the Spurs, but Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Darrell Arthur cause problems.
Regardless of the outcome, after the awful season Memphis had after Gasol was traded, a postseason bid is respite in and of itself. For more on the Grizzlies' win, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.