OKC Thunder (2-0, 1-0 road) at Memphis Grizzlies (0-1, 0-0 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 105.4 (12th), Grizzlies– 86.7 (29th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 99.1 (10th), Grizzlies – 100.4 (15th)
Pace: Thunder – 95.4 (9th), Grizzlies – 94.6 (12th)
View from the enemy: 3 Shades of Blue
A return to the FedEx Forum. The place of triple-overtime games and manufactured feuds between players.
It’s the first time the Thunder and Grizzlies have met since Kevin Durant’s 39-point and Russell Westbrook’s triple-double Game 7 performances that sent Oklahoma City to the Western Conference Finals. It’s the first time the Thunder will have seen Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph since Nick Collison basically beat them up in the post like he had a lead pipe.
In other words, for a third game of the season, this one feels big.
Memphis coming in: The Grizzlies have played just once, getting romped Monday in San Antonio.
Three Big Things
1. Where’s Shane Battier? And who is this “Rudy Gay” person? Gone is the total nuisance in Shane Battier. Kevin Durant will now just have to deal with Tony Allen mugging him as he tries to run around a baseline screen. But there’s this other guy — Rudy Gay, I believe. Is he good? I guess he’s a new player the Grizzlies got, because he wasn’t involved in last season’s series. It’s a question as to what kind of impact Gay will have. Will he give the Grizzlies a much-needed scorer that can create on his own, or will he open up Durant’s world from Battier and Allen’s terror.
2. Does Serge show up? So Serge Ibaka hasn’t been great the first two games. Is something going on? Is he unfocused, taking a step back or did he overachieve some last season? I think this game will say a lot about where he’s at. There’s really no reason he shouldn’t get 25 to 30 minutes against Randolph and Gasol. I know Scott Brooks likes the way Nick Collison defends Randolph and the new Perk means more minutes for him, but Ibaka needs some playing time. And if he’s not getting it against a team he matches up well with, then there might be cause for concern.
3. Staying under control. In the playoff series, the Grizzlies feasted on stupid Oklahoma City turnovers. The games Memphis won came largely because the Thunder piled up 15, 18 or even 20 turnovers. OKC would get loose with the ball trying to play too quickly and Memphis capitalized by playing smart, possession basketball. The Thunder have more talent. They have the better team, top to bottom. But Memphis can beat OKC because with Gasol and Randolph, they have high efficiency post scorers that can get points consistently. A lot of this game might be determined by how much fouling Collison, Perk and Ibaka are allowed to get away with.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go O-K-C.