Seven months ago, times were good in Bluff City.
The Memphis Grizzlies prepped for a battle with the San Antonio Spurs to decide the Western Conference champion. After topping the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder in the playoffs, the remodeled front office had seemingly been validated by trading top scorer Rudy Gay earlier in the season. It was the furthest the franchise has ever gotten in the postseason.
You don't fall out of bed and into the Western Conference finals, but the Grizzlies had to feel pretty fortunate about the cards they were dealt. Blake Griffin was grounded by a high ankle sprain and barely played in Games 5 and 6 of the Grizzlies' first-round series. In the conference semifinals, the Thunder were down a superstar when Russell Westbrook tore the meniscus in his right knee. With clean bill of health on their side and talented core, the Grizzlies capitalized on the opportunity, powering their way to contend for the West championship.
But that was seven months ago. Times have changed.