Grizzlies (4-3, 1-3 road) vs. Thunder (5-2, 3-1 home)
Thunder lead 1-0
View from the enemy: 3 Shades of Blue
People are looking at Game 1 one of two ways: 1) The Thunder stole one they shouldn’t have, and are lucky to have a 1-0 lead; or 2) the Grizzlies are vulnerable because of their inconsistent offense, and Kevin Durant can beat them three more times.
I think Game 2 might give a little better insight into which of those two things is more accurate.
However, I don’t think Game 2 is nearly as important for the Thunder as Game 1 was. They’ve proven themselves now. They know they can play with Memphis, and they know they can beat them. They’re still struggling to find their way without Westbrook, but they know they can win. Losing Game 2 means you lose homecourt advantage, but this Thunder team can win on the road. And while a loss would cause major concern, I don’t think it’s the end of the world.
That said, a win and wow, the Thunder are in great shape. The Grizzlies are going to play desperate tonight and I expect an inspired defensive effort on their end. If the Thunder can find some jumpshots and hit timely 3s, they can weather whatever Memphis throws at them.
Three Big Things
1. Good start(s). One thing I think the Thunder sorely miss without Russell Westbrook is his energy to start the first and third quarters. I honestly think that’s the biggest problem with the slow third quarters. Instead of having Westbrook come firing out of the gate, the Thunder are sort of feeling their way out each time. One solution: Bring Kevin Martin in much earlier. Instead of the five-minute mark, maybe the eight-minute mark. Get more offense on the floor earlier.
2. Serge. He’s not going to go 1-10 again. But he does need to continue to play Z-Bo well, and then add to his offense on the other end. Because having the ability to keep Ibaka on the floor adds so much to the offensive end, particularly against the Grizzly bigs. If he can continue to defend Z-Bo well, that’s a major plus for OKC, because it means he can stay on the floor.
3. K-Mart. He has to continue to score the ball well. If he can score better than 20 again, I think the Thunder win.
Tip at 8:30 CT. Go 2.