Chris Herrington for ESPN.com: “Allen might not make sense as a cult hero in every NBA city, but he fits in colorful, big-hearted but rough-edged Memphis, where he’s embraced his “The Grindfather” persona so fully that he displays the nickname on a vanity plate on the front of one of his cars. Kevin Durant’s persona, of course, would play anywhere. But more befitting pious, respectful Oklahoma City, Durant has declined the similarly fun and intimidating moniker “Slim Reaper,” asking instead to be called “The Servant.” Now it’s back to Memphis, with Allen’s team holding home-court advantage and his match-up with Durant squarely in the spotlight. In what has become one of the NBA’s most compelling rivalries, the best is yet to come. ”
Berry Tramel: “But it’s high time Westbrook looked upon Conley as someone trying to take his lunch money. High time Westbrook concocts some egregious crime and charges off on a holy crusade. Many are the benefits of a locked-in Westbrook on defense. Starting with, Thabo Sefolosha doesn’t have to play so many minutes. Thabo rode to the rescue in Game 2, helping curtail Conley’s penetration and allowing the Thunder to stage a late comeback. And Sefolosha no doubt will take his turn at Conley in Game 3. But Thabo played 32 minutes in Game 2, six more than his season average.”
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com: “But one of the reasons the Allen-Durant matchup is so intriguing is that Allen plays without fear and without concern of consequence. He is not afraid to be called for fouls or to be physical, so he gets into Durant’s body. He is not afraid to get embarrassed so he does everything he can to deny Durant the ball, even though he is probably giving up eight-plus inches and sometimes it can lead to a basket that looks too easy. If Durant scores on him three straight times, Allen will be unaffected.”
John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “And it’s not because the Grizzlies aren’t great. They are. They’re better than what we should expect from a No. 7 seed. But they also had an uncharacteristically good shooting game from the perimeter on Monday and, more importantly, Oklahoma City is better. They’re the No. 2 seed for a reason, they’re strong on both ends of the floor, and they’ll find a way to loosen Tony Allen’s clamp on Kevin Durant.”
Courtney Lee: “We’re fine with Westbrook taking shots, I mean, that’s kinda what you want – the more shots he takes, the less Durant takes.”
John Hoover of the Tulsa World: “A national discourse rose Monday night suggesting if the Thunder drop out of the first round, Brooks may be fired. That seems a stretch. Brooks is an ideal pitchman for the Thunder way. But maybe not. Although three would be better, Brooks does have two elite players at his disposal. Patience at the top can wear thin.
Brooks knows he needs to get those elite players to play like it. Durant and Westbrook need to be better, but also elevate those around them. That will be easier said than done in what has become a best-of-5 series against the one Western Conference opponent OKC wanted to avoid.”
Jeff Caplan of NBA.com: “Durant allowed frustration to get the better of him during and after Monday night’s Game 2 overtime home loss to the seventh-seeded Grizzlies. He scored 36 points, but nothing came easy. He was 12-for-28 with Grizzlies stopper Tony Allen again applying velcro defense. After the 111-105 defeat, Durant, through slumping body language and dismissive speech, presented an air of fatalism instead of optimism, confidence and determination. Seated at a dais alongside Russell Westbrook, Durant slouched in his chair, his head hung and shoulders folded inward. He purposefully lowered his voice into the microphone to a barely audible level. One of the more insightful players in the league offered, purposefully, mostly curt, short answers to questions he seemed to deem beneath him. On occasion he sniped back at reporters. It wasn’t a good look.”