It’s 11:30 on a Sunday night. The first game of the Memphis/Los Angeles Clippers series has been, thus far, underwhelming to say the least. After watching blow-out after blow-out in the first two days of the Playoffs, I was hoping that Game 1 of that series would be a competitive and hard fought one. No luck. As such, my attention began to wander. At that moment, I happened to find myself logged into the online dating site I had just convinced myself to sign up for and was in the process of emailing a girl I was planning on meeting up with soon.
Then my phone rang. I looked down and it was a name that I hadn’t seen in months. It was my ex.
We talked for a bit. She was drunk and asked me how I’ve been. I wasn’t and I told her I’ve been well. I asked her how her new place was. She missed Ohio, but it was growing on her. Her cat was still cute. It was a weird, brief conversation. I tried to figure out from her tone what she was thinking, if she missed me. I couldn’t tell. It was a quick call, around eight minutes.
I walked back into my living room, my confidence now shaken. I closed the email I was writing, I’d write it tomorrow I told myself. Why did I care so much? She doesn’t even live in the same state as I do any more. Maybe it’s pride? Maybe I want to know that her moving was as rough on her as it was on me? Who knows? I looked back up at my TV, the Grizzlies still had a 27 point lead. Even the first game of the first round matchup I was anticipating the most couldn’t get my mind off the weird call that just ended. I laid back down on the couch and got lost in thought.
Next thing I knew, something amazing was happening. I don’t remember exactly when I realized that the Clippers were coming back, but by the time that Nick Young managed to nail three three-pointers in under a minute, I fully believed that the Clippers were going to pull off the comeback. And they did win, 99-98 on the back of a monster 28-3 run. One of the craziest comebacks I’ve ever seen.
As great of a night as it was for the Clippers, it was equally as bad for the Grizzlies. Just when everything looked to be going their way, something unexpected happened and they had no idea how to adjust. They nervously scrambled, trying whatever they could to stop the damage. They put Tony Allen on Chris Paul, it didn’t help. They returned to trying to get in the paint and score easy lay-ups, but couldn’t. Despite the first 40 minutes of the game going their way, the last eight minutes were a totally nightmare. Eight unexpected, confidence shattering minutes.
I recognized that look in the Grizzlies faces after the game. It was a look that I had worn on my face just minutes earlier, it was the look of being lost. It’s that look that’s left on your face once you have your confidence shaken to the core, when suddenly you don’t know what to think or do.
Things happen that have you question yourself. You wonder if you’re not good enough, or if you’ll ever be good enough. You relive your mistakes in your head time and time again, you pick yourself apart with an eye more discerning than anyone. And it gets you nowhere. The Grizzles are still the better team in this matchup. Sure, Chris Paul is nothing to scoff at or take lightly, but Memphis’ bigs should be able to run all over the Clippers front court. Tony Allen can guard Chris Paul about as well as anyone in the league. They need to just brush this night off as one of those crazy things that sometimes happens. They just need to remember that they’re good enough to go all the away, to get what they’ve been working for for so long as long as they don’t internalize this as something it isn’t.
Which reminds me, I think I have an email to finish.