Memphis Grizzlies (7-5, 2-4 road) vs. OKC Thunder (7-4, 5-1 home)
Series: Series tied 3-3
View from the enemy: 3 Shades of Blue
I’m not sure there’s anything that anyone can say that will take the edge off. This is Game 7. This is big time.
At this point, we definitely know the matchups, we know the adjustments, we know what it takes. I think the Thunder’s a more talented team. Actually, I’m pretty sure I know that. But are they the better team? That’s to be decided today.
Now I don’t have much experience with Game 7 basketball, so I’m a lot like the actual team. Maybe ignorance is bliss here because not thinking too much about the magnitude of the game might be a good thing. Dwell on the importance, and things might get tense.
Because here’s the somewhat sobering reality: The Thunder’s season could end today. Just like that, all this fun, all this excitement, could come to an end. It’s terrifying, but in my mind, regardless of the result. this has been a wonderful season. An opportunity is here and it would be a shame to miss out on it, but I’m not going to curse the heavens if OKC loses. Still, losing a Game 7 at home sets a poor precedent and isn’t something I want to spend a summer thinking about. I’m assume the team is thinking the same thing.
The question is, which teams show up? Is it the Game 5 Thunder versus the Game 6 Grizzlies? The Game 6 Thunder versus the Game 6 Grizzlies? Or Game 5 Thunder versus Game 6 Grizzlies? We’ve seen varying degrees of basketball quality the past few days and I’m not sure what to think. I refuse to believe Kevin Durant will shoot the ball poorly again, but is Zach Randolph back in a groove? Will the Thunder press and try too hard? Will the role players step up? Will Russell Westbrook force things? I have about a million questions and I’m almost too afraid of what the answer will be.
Here’s good news: OKC is 24-6 in bounce back games, including the playoffs. On top of that, the Thunder have lost only once at home after suffering a loss the game before and that was right after the trade where OKC was shorthanded. A stat like that doesn’t guarantee anything, but if you’re looking for something to hold on to for dear life, take refuge in the bounce back stat.
As far as an adjustment, it’s very unlikely Scott Brooks alters his starting five for this game to match Memphis. I would put the chance at about 0.0005 percent. And I understand why Brooks doesn’t. I think a lot like him. Stick with what got you here. Now’s not the time to go tinkering and messing with things. If it doesn’t work, that’s immediately what everyone will point at.
At the same time though, the playoffs are when you can’t mess around. We saw the damage in Game 6 and it wasn’t pretty. It might be a risk to knee-jerk and change up things, but it also might be the difference in winning and losing. But that’s why Scott Brooks makes a lot of money. He’s the one that has to make these decisions. He’s going with what he thinks puts the Thunder in the best position to win. Sometimes he’s right, sometimes he’s wrong.
Let’s just hope he gets it right today.
Tip at 2:30 CT. Go Game 7.