Thunder (5-3, 2-1 road) vs. Grizzlies (5-3, 3-0 home)
Series tied 1-1
View from the enemy: 3 Shades of Blue
In a seven-game series, every game feels immensely important. Game to game, you often hear people say things like, “I think whoever wins this game will win the series.” They’ll say it before Game 1, before Game 2 and people are definitely saying it prior to Game 3. That’s the way it is. The difference in being up 2-1 and down 1-2 feels huge, especially when you’re on the road.
But the Thunder have a task in front of them to regain homecourt advantage by winning once in Memphis. Whether that’s today, in Game 4, or Game 6 if it comes to that, the Thunder will have to win once there. Scott Brooks’ approach is a good one, though. The Thunder aren’t thinking split. They’re thinking about winning Game 3. Because there’s no time to exhale or relax here. You can only play the game in front of you like it’s the most important thing in the world.
Game 3 does have an extra significant feel to it though because of the pressure on the Thunder coming off a loss and a three-day break. Do they have anything different planned? Are they going to adjust considerably? Are they going to play with a new spirit, a new edge? Are they going to press and try too hard? It’s all up in the air today.
Three Big Things
1. Thabo on Conley. The top potential adjustment is putting Thabo Sefolosha on Mike Conley for extended stretches. With Conley really running the Memphis show as their primary perimeter offensive weapon, the Thunder have to focus on shutting him down. Or at least holding him in check. In the same way Thabo was used on Tony Parker last year, don’t be surprised if he’s on Conley for long stretches today. Because otherwise, why is he on the floor? You’re not gaining much by having Thabo guard Tony Allen. Use his strengths.
2. Martin. I’ll repeat it: Martin in the Thunder’s last two losses: 3-21, nine points. Martin in the Thunder’s last two wins: 15-27, 50 points. I really don’t think this is coincidental.
3. Clean up. Get the turnovers under control, get the defensive rebounding sorted out. It’s pretty clear what it’s going to take for these teams to win and lose. The Grizzlies need those extra possessions desperately to keep pace with OKC’s offense. And the Thunder have to eliminate them to create distance. It’s almost as simple as that.
Tip at 4:00 CT. Go Help KD.