Tony Allen is making Kevin Durant work unlike anyone else has ever made him work. So what's he doing and how can the Thunder counter it? Keep reading »
The Grizzlies sent the series back to Memphis tied 1-1. Keep reading »
Every coach, before every game spits the same message when it comes to defending Kevin Durant. It goes something like, “You can’t stop him. You can just try to make him work for his points.”
Almost every night, that’s lip service as Durant toasts the opposing team with an effortless 32 on 17 shots. But Tony Allen? He’s making KD work.
Durant had 36 in Game 2 against the Grizzlies, but it came on a labored, difficult 12-28 shooting night where Allen hounded every catch, pushed him through screens, denied the ball everywhere and got under him make it tough to handle even 30 feet from the basket. Scott Brooks talked postgame last night about “getting their hands off him” which is his way of criticizing the officiating for letting Allen be too handsy, but it’s not a foul unless the whistle blows.
Allen is an elite defender, but still, he’s giving up six inches to Durant. So how is this working? Keep Reading…
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com: “Allen isn’t a star, but he has battled the Thunder’s biggest star reasonably well so far. In the first two games, Durant is 9-of-25 shooting when he has been guarded by Allen in the half court. Durant, who still ended up with 36 points Monday, is 10-of-18 against everyone else. When the Grizzlies stuck their necks out to give Allen a four-year, $20 million deal last offseason, it was for this kind of moment. It did look like that Allen steal/block had won the game for the Grizzlies, who calmly showed their playoff experience throughout the night by making some strategic adjustments and improving their focus and execution after a Game 1 loss.”
Berry Tramel: “But the Thunder won’t win this series with miracle shots. They’ve got to make the Grizzlies struggle on offense, since the Grizzlies absolutely will make the Thunder do exactly that. The Thunder knows the Grizzlies well. Knows exactly how tough is Memphis. Knows how tough it is to play in Memphis. In five playoff games at FedEx Forum, the Thunder has won just once and needed triple overtime to get that victory, back in 2011. These Grizzlies are made for the playoffs. They slow it down, they play tough, they defend like crazy. Memphis makes it hard to score. If you don’t do the same, you go home.” Keep Reading…
It just seemed a little too perfect. Kevin Durant hitting miracle and-1 3s, Kendrick Perkins hitting buzzer-beaters to force overtime — let the history books show that actually happened — it felt like the Thunder capitalizing on their good fortune in Game 2 was too much of a given.
And when the Grizzlies scored the first four points, it was obvious that for the Thunder to survive a game where they were severely outplayed, it was going to take more witchcraft from Durant. But that magic ran out.
“It’s tough,” said Russell Westbrook. “Obviously we fought so hard to get ourselves into the position to get to overtime, but we didn’t make plays.” Keep Reading…
Grizzlies (0-1, 0-1 road) vs. Thunder (1-0, 1-0 home)
Thunder lead 1-0
After 24 minutes, it looked as if the Thunder were going to bulldoze their way through the overwhelmed Grizzlies and make an opening Game 1 statement that was loud and clear.
But a 31-13 third quarter not just got the Grizzlies back in the game, but back in the series as well. In that first half, scoring was a chore for Memphis, almost as if making the ball go in the basket was something of a miracle. Their offense was a wreck as the Thunder swarmed and attacked them. A little halftime adjusting and the Grizzlies were able to impose their will, get back to basics of their ground-and-pound offense, and do their thing. Points started coming easy and as they returned the favor with rabid defense in the halfcourt on the other end, the game tightened. Keep Reading…
There were moments during Saturday night’s game when we were reminded what a healthy Westbrook and Durant can look like in the open floor. Ibaka rumbling along side them, this flying V of athletes scorching down a court, just waiting to eat a rim. The first half had that familiar feeling of successful playoff games past. Every minute or so you saw one of them screaming out ahead of the Grizzlies, their bodies blurring against a backdrop of Thunder royal blue shirts, the ball not sticking, sprinting down a wooden hill. They were lighting fires to all the seats, not a soul sitting down.
The third quarter reminded everyone why the Grizzlies are horrifying. When Gasol and Z-Bo get to clicking it feels like the snowball can become an avalanche real quick and after putting up a 31-13 piece when they needed it most it will make watching every game from here on out a terrifying experience, no matter how far up the Thunder may be. Keep Reading…
Ben Golliver of SI.com on Game 1: “With the Grizzlies starting to tire, Durant kicked into overdrive, scoring 11 points in a six-minute stretch. As he often does, Durant did it from everywhere: knocking down a three-pointer, mixing in a mid-range jumper, getting to the free throw line and leaking out for two baskets in transition. The standout play from the sequence encapsulated why Durant is such a terrifying entity. Running ahead of the action, Durant stretched for an overthrown pass by Reggie Jackson and corralled the ball at full speed; he then took one step before jumping off the wrong foot to finish an “easy” layup. How many players his size have that type of dexterity? How many players with the necessary length to complete the catch also have sufficient coordination to make the basket? Those are rhetorical questions.”
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com: “It’s not that the Thunder are unbeatable at home — the Grizzlies ended OKC’s season on the same floor last May. The Grizzlies have it within their power to find a way to win this series, too, though they’re certainly the underdog. But it was no real surprise the Thunder were the only high seed to defend its home court on the first day of the playoffs. Beating the Thunder when Durant and Westbrook are fully engaged — and they were in this one — is a task. Playing against the Thunder in Oklahoma City in a playoff game on April 19 — you’re playing against more than the players in uniform.” Keep Reading…
One down, three to go.
The Thunder played roughly 34 minutes of terrific, dynamic basketball, but a third quarter slip allowed the Grizzlies to not just get back in the game for a brief moment, but affirm to themselves that they can play with OKC.
So… what caused the drastic collapse?
“It’s on me, man. I’ve got to a do a better job,” Russell Westbrook said Sunday. “I turned the ball over a few times. Pace got real slow. I was lagging. It won’t happen again. It was my fault.” Keep Reading…
At halftime, the Thunder led the Grizzlies 56-34 in what was a complete, diabolical beatdown. The way the Thunder swarmed and suffocated a good Grizzlies team made it seem almost a miracle when Memphis stumbled their way to two points.
But it was funny, because even with a 22-point lead, it felt like it should’ve been more like 62 with the way Oklahoma City absolutely demolished Memphis. The way the Thunder played, though, gave a look like yep, they were simply just waiting for this to turn off the dimmer and go full sun. They had the look of a potential playoff buzzsaw, taking that coasting nonsense from the last month and punting it from the top row of Loud City.
And then the third quarter started.