A one-game elimination tournament, the NBA playoffs are not.
But boy, that did not go well.
One team looked like the superior group and it wasn’t the one in the home whites. The Grizzlies walked into Oklahoma City and basically just took it to the Thunder in every way. They led early, and they led throughout. They led by as many as 17 and finished it off with a 114-101 win in OKC, snatching homecourt advantage.
The three things I couldn’t stop thinking about the last 48 hours really hurt the Thunder in this one: turnovers, rebounding and Zach Randolph. The Thunder turned it over 18 times, the Grizzlies rebounded 17 of their 45 misses and Randolph finished with 34 and 10. Three strikes and the Thunder’s out.
The first half was fairly miserable, but one of those where it felt like the Thunder could seize an opportunity by just being down 10 going to the break. And they roared out in the second half cutting the Grizzlies’ lead to just three twice. It really had the feel that the Thunder were going to right the wrongs and issues from the first 24 minutes and assert themselves for a good second half battle. But one play really summed it up. After the Thunder got a big stop, Serge Ibaka turned and wildly threw the ball to Russell Westbrook. Memphis picked it off, scored on the next possession and just like that, momentum zapped once again. Despite all the effort and energy out of the gates to start the third, Memphis actually extended its lead to 13 heading into the fourth. Keep Reading…