Grizzlies host Mavs with minds on Spurs
The Memphis Grizzlies will be looking ahead to their next opponent when they hit the court Wednesday.
The Grizzlies (43-38) host the Dallas Mavericks (32-49) at FedEx Forum in the regular-season finale for both teams.
“Obviously, we have a ton of respect for (coach Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks),” Memphis coach David Fizdale told The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. “How we play in that game (matters). But I can’t waste one minute trying to prepare for Dallas when we’ve got the Spurs (coming up).”
The Grizzlies and Spurs meet in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, beginning this weekend.
Memphis enters Wednesday’s contest having lost four of five.
“We’re locked in and preparing for the Spurs,” point guard Mike Conley told the paper after Sunday’s 103-90 home loss to Detroit. “We’re trying to get all of our guys on the right page and in the right mind for what needs to be done to win a series.”
Detroit forced nine Memphis turnovers and outscored the Grizzlies 27-10 in the third period, but Fizdale was happy with some of what he saw.
“We looked sharp. I thought we really brought a good intensity to the game,” Fizdale said. “I thought we respected our opponent. The areas we are really trying to focus in on I thought we paid real close attention to, so I was happy with that.”
The Spurs (20) and Grizzlies (seven) have the league’s longest and third-longest active playoff streaks.
Wednesday’s game will be the fourth between Memphis and Dallas. The Grizzlies took two of the first three.
The Mavericks are coming off a 109-91 loss to Denver, at home Tuesday night.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 21 points. The Mavericks, who were outscored 60-34 in the second and fourth quarters, have lost five in a row.
But the biggest news surrounding the game involved the newest member of Dallas’ bench: A guard by the name of Tony Romo.
Romo, fresh off announcing his retirement after 14 seasons as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, took part in pregame warmups and even wore a No. 9 Mavericks jersey.
The ceremonial gesture was hatched by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
“I basically said if we don’t make the playoffs, I’ll do it,” Cuban told the Star-Telegram. “I kept my word. It’s fun for me because I play pickup with Tony. I know he can play. I know he loves basketball, so it was just a win-win. For fans, Tony, the city, it was just all positives all around.”
Cuban had been clear since he pitched the idea at a dinner celebrating Nowitzki reaching 30,000 points that Romo would not see game action.
“We try to connect to our fans in every way we can,” Cuban said. “If you look at our videos, we’re not self-important. We’re very self-aware and that starts with Dirk. So, given the circumstances, if we can have fun, what do you think I’m going to do?”
Nowitzki took to Twitter to poke fun at his good friend.
“Fan appreciation night,” Nowitzki wrote. “Also, honoring tonyromo tonight. Come early and you can watch him shoot some air balls in layup line …”
Fans roared each time Romo, who showed off some nifty dribbling moves, touched the ball during the pregame.
He was even introduced with the starters before the game: “In his first season, from Eastern Illinois, welcome to Dallas, No. 9, Tony Romo.”