Thunder (5-4 2-2 road) vs. Grizzlies (6-3, 4-0 home)
Memphis leads 2-1
View from the enemy: 3 Shades of Blue
I think it’s a bit dramatic to call this a “must-win.” So I’m going to call it a “really, really, really need to win.” The Thunder had a grand opportunity to get this split out of the way in Game 3, but were unable to make anything, and couldn’t close in the final 90 seconds.
The Thunder are right there. It’s obvious the Grizzlies aren’t significantly better, and that there’s no major edge for them. All three games have been decided by a series of plays in the last three minutes. One of them, OKC made the plays. Two of them, Memphis made them.
In NBA history, falling behind 3-1 means almost certain playoff death. You can dig out, but without Russell Westbrook, that could be a major task for this Thunder team. Winning Game 4 isn’t a must, it’s just super duper important.
Three Big Things
1. Shoot the ball better. Start with Serge Ibaka. His confidence might be shot, and he might be feeling pressure, especially after missing a few. But he has to knock down good looks. He’s done it for three years now, and he can’t get the yips now. The Thunder simply need him too much.
2. Make more shots. Kevin Martin got going a little better in Game 3 and knocked down a 3 and got a few easy buckets. But it wasn’t near enough. He’s got to do better than 13 points. I’m convinced: If Martin scores more than 20, the Thunder win. Simple as that.
3. Throw the ball into the basket more. This Thunder team had one of the greatest free throw shooting seasons ever. That’s why missing 11 is so infuriating. The Thunder don’t have room for those kind of mistakes anymore. The littlest things are incredibly important now. Free points against the Grizzlies are huge. Make free throws.
Tip at 8:30 CT. Go In the Basket, Ball.