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Former Grizzlies face-off in Finals

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

After a historic postseason run that saw the Memphis Grizzlies earn their first seven playoff wins in team history, the Grizzlies moved closer to the ultimate goal of every NBA franchise: a trip to the NBA Finals. The Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks made it to that point this season in a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals, which the Heat won in six games. To get back to the NBA’s ultimate stage, both teams enlisted the help of some former Grizzlies. Here’s a look at the three players involved in the 2011 NBA Finals who’ve made stops in Memphis or Vancouver.

Mike Bibby

Grizzlies Career: 1998-01, three seasons, 14.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists
Current Role: Miami Heat starting point guard
2011 Playoffs: 3.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists/>/>

In Miami, Bibby’s duties at the point aren’t to lead the team in assists (he is the Grizzlies’ all-time leader in assists-per-game with 7.8) but rather to aid in the ball movement dominated by superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. James and Wade are two of the better passers at their respective positions, taking the distribution onus off of Bibby. It’s commonplace to see James or Wade bring the ball up court and using their unique combination of size and speed to get to the rim early in the shot clock, in which case Bibby acts more as a trailer ready to reset the position or plants himself in a corner hoping for an open three. It’s Bibby’s ability to hit those open looks that is perhaps his most valuable asset to Miami, as he knocked down .455 of his shots from behind the arc in 22 regular season games with the Heat. With so much talent around him, Bibby rarely needs to create too much offensively and plays a completely different style than the fresh-faced rookie who first took the floor for Vancouver in 1998.

Mike Miller

Grizzlies Career: 2003-08, six seasons, 14.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists
Current Role: Miami Heat reserve forward
2011 Playoffs: 2.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists/>/>

The Grizzlies’ all-time three-point leader was signed to fulfill the three-point specialist role in Miami, however a preseason thumb injury hindered his production for much of the season. Now healthy, he helps Miami stretch the floor since opposing teams need to respect his career .404 mark from distance. Miller’s underrated rebounding ability is also a huge plus for the Heat, whose aging centers sometimes struggle to give the reserves much of a presence on the glass. A staple on the Grizzlies’ first three playoff clubs in franchise history and the 2005-06 Sixth Man of the Year, Miller should be called upon to help the Heat match the Mavericks’ lethal three-point weapons.

Brian Cardinal

Grizzlies Career: 2004-08, four seasons, 5.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Current Role: Dallas Mavericks reserve forward
2011 Playoffs: 0.8 points, 0.5 rebounds. 0.3 assists/>/>

Though rarely used thus far in the 2011 NBA Playoffs, add Cardinal to the list of former Grizzlies in this year’s Finals that will camp out at the three-point line when given the opportunity. Cardinal hit a career-best .483 from distance for Dallas this season and is capable of stringing together some efficient minutes off the bench if needed, a role he occupied for the better part of four years in Memphis. As an added bonus, the Grizzlies’ all-time leader in free throw percentage (.847) has missed just two free throws in 36 attempts in the last two seasons (.944).

Catch The Finals on ABC-TV. View the full schedule at