Grizzlies back looking for 1st playoff victory

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MEMPHIS, TENN. (AP) - Before the Memphis Grizzlies can think about winning a playoff series, they first have to take one small step.

Win a postseason game.

The Grizzlies enter their series against the San Antonio Spurs with the dubious record of being swept out of the first round in all three of their previous playoff appearances.

At 0-12, it’s some heavy baggage. Depending on which Memphis player is answering the question, it is a record that can be tough to ignore.

“We’re very aware of it,” guard Tony Allen said after practice Friday. “They have been ranting about it all year. We’ve gotten our short-term goal (making the playoffs) out of the way, and now it’s time to make some noise in this postseason.”

To do that, Memphis will have to beat a Spurs team that finished with the second-best record in the league.

San Antonio, the top seed in the Western Conference, hosts the eighth-seeded Grizzlies for the first two games starting Sunday before the series moves back to Memphis for Games 3 and 4.

The Grizzlies hope they get a second look at the city of San Antonio this series because that means they will have accomplished the goal of winning a playoff game, something this franchise has yet to do in making the postseason three straight seasons starting in 2004.

The Spurs were the first team to sweep the Grizzlies out of the postseason in 2004, and the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks followed the next two postseasons in needing only four games to advance to the conference semifinals. It’s not the kind of mark any NBA team wants.

Center Tim Duncan was part of the Spurs team that swept Memphis in 2004, but was surprised when asked about the Grizzlies still looking for their first playoff win.

“Wow. But I don’t think that means anything,” Duncan said. “This isn’t a team that’s played the last 20 years, or however old that franchise is. This is a brand-new team for them, and they’ve been playing well. They’re pretty confident in what they do. History doesn’t matter right now.”

Memphis is 13-8 since starting March with a 109-83 win over the Spurs, a stretch that also includes a 111-104 win over San Antonio on March 27.

Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins notes these are different players than the previous teams, a group that plays harder and tougher.

Point guard Mike Conley insists they aren’t thinking about that 0-12 record in the postseason.

“We’re worrying about this team. This team hasn’t been 0-12. We haven’t lost 12 straight playoff games. We haven’t even been in the playoffs as a team,” he said.

“We’re just thinking of this as our first opportunity to get out here and show people what we can do, and not just win a game. We want to win a series. We’ve got to keep our minds set on that and not worrying about a winless streak that’s been going on for the organization.”

The Grizzlies have some confidence from splitting the regular-season series with the Spurs, and Manu Ginobili is doubtful for Sunday.

Hollins was criticized for sitting Zach Randolph and Allen in the Grizzlies’ final two games, with some complaining he passed up the chance for a higher seed while others said he was trying to avoid playing the defending champion Lakers. Hollins defended the decision, saying he wanted his players rested for the postseason.

Allen said the plan is to not get hung up on winning just a game, not when there are bigger goals.

“We plan on winning this series and plan on getting to the next series,” Allen said. “In order to do that, we have to take it one game at a time. Come in with great focus and just stay together, and knowing it’s going to be a hostile environment down there. Just be ready for whatever comes our way.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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