Tag Archives: elimination game

2014 Western Conference Finals Game 6 preview

durant duncan leonard thunder spurs

We’ve been here before. Game 6 of the Memphis series (and the subsequent Game 7). The only thing different in this series is the team who holds the home court advantage. The Thunder will be playing Game 6 in the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. And if this series holds true to form, then we’ll see a Game 7 on Monday. The home team has won by resounding fashion in each of the first 5 games of the series. There is no clear cut way to tell who has the advantage other than to say the Spurs have played much better in San Antonio than the Thunder have in Oklahoma City, but not by much.

This what you want, though. An elimination game played on your home floor. You would like that elimination game to be Game 7, but no matter when you face the elimination game, you want it to be on your home court. This won’t be a repeat of 2012. The Spurs made sure of that in Game 5. Now, the onus will be on the Thunder to protect their home court.  This will be the 2nd elimination game for the Thunder at home this postseason. They only had one home elimination game in the 3 seasons prior to this season (Game 7 of the 2nd round series against the Grizzlies in the 2011 playoffs).

Keys to the Game:

1. Stop over-helping – The Spurs killed the Thunder in Game 5 by making the extra pass and pump-faking their way into the paint. Every time the ball swung, a Thunder defender would go flying back to the Spurs player on the perimeter. The Spurs player would then simply pump fake to get the Thunder defender in the air and then drive into the paint to cause more havoc. Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, and, yes, even Kendrick Perkins, did a great job of defending the paint in Games 3 and 4. But in Game 5, with Ibaka out of the paint having to defend the likes of Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw, the Spurs’ players found it easier to get into the paint and suck the Thunder defense in. With the defense sucked in, the Spurs punished the Thunder with 13 threes in Game 5 (their most in a game this postseason).

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder

2. The Others – The Thunder players, not named Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, need to step up and help their superstar duo out. Other than Reggie Jackson’s 11 points (all in the 1st quarter), no other player on the Thunder roster came within 4 points of reaching double figures. The Thunder are at their best when “the others” are also scoring as it opens up the floor for their play makers (Durant, Westbrook, and Jackson).

3. Pick and Roll involving the PF when Duncan is the center – The Thunder have to take advantage of the pick and roll when the PF in the game is not Tim Duncan. Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw cannot keep up laterally with any of our guards and Ibaka and Nick Collison can hit the mid-range jumper. The Thunder took advantage of this in the first quarter (especially Reggie Jackson), but quit going back to it throughout the game.

durant thunder

4. Kevin Durant – Last time we questioned him, it was in the form of a headline. This time, I’m wondering whether he has anymore left in his tank. Durant is always talking about that extra level that he can reach, but so far, in these playoffs, its been Westbrook that has been the Thunder’s best player. For the Thunder to reach the next round, Durant will need to go more Slim Reaper or Junkyard Dog instead of settling for KD.

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Game 7 Recap

butler durant thunder

Have you ever been away from your significant other for an extended period of time without seeing them (be it a job deployment or a self-imposed hiatus)? And then you see them again and they’ve lost 20 pounds, gotten highlights in their hair, and upped their confidence rating. And you are left wondering, “How do I act around this person?”

Well, that’s kind of how the first 18 minutes went for the Oklahoma City Thunder in this game. The Thunder had battled the Grizzlies the same for the past 6 games (the 2 bigs, Mike Conley, a streaky Courtney Lee, and an ineffective “why the hell is he still starting?” Tayshaun Prince, with Mike Miller, Beno Udrih, and Tony Allen sprinkled in between there). But the Zach Randolph suspension in Game 7 kind of flipped the script for Memphis and they came out with an entirely different line-up that threw the Thunder for a loop. Out was Prince (and, of course, Randolph), and in was Miller and Allen. The Grizzlies started small out of necessity and held their largest lead of 11 points with 40 seconds left in the 1st quarter. They finished the first quarter up by 9 at 36-27. That’ right. 36 points for the Grizzlies in a quarter.

The beginning of the 2nd quarter was more of the same, but Memphis’s depth issues started to become a problem near the middle of the 2nd quarter. After two free throws by Gasol at the 8:40 mark of the 2nd quarter, the Grizzlies missed their next 7 shots and turned the ball over twice. By the time Conley made a shot with 4:43 left, the Thunder had tied up the game at 44.

After that point, the Thunder smelled blood and kept on attacking to take a 3 point lead heading into halftime. In the third quarter, it was more of the same as the Grizzlies didn’t make their FG of the 2nd half until 6:35 remaining in the third quarter. By that point, the Thunder were up 78-65 and had all the momentum moving forward. They never let the lead get under 10 points for the rest of the game and ended up winning 120-109.

A couple thoughts on the game:

  • The Grizzlies were forced to play the Thunder’s style and it completely backfired on them from the middle of the 2nd quarter on. The pace was not condusive to the Grizzlies style, but it fit right in the Thunder’s wheel-house.

 

  • The pace also caused the Grizzlies’ turnovers to go up (14), which led to 31 points for the Thunder off of those turnovers.

 

  • If its a Game 7 against the Grizzlies, then Russell Westbrook must be due for a triple double (27/10/16)

 

  • After shooting 12-21 (57%) in the 1st quarter, the Grizzlies went on to shoot 25-62 (40%) for the rest of the game. Gotta love that regression.

 

  • Kevin Durant, since the headline: 69 points and 18 rebounds on 56/45/86 shooting. I’m still not giving you credit The Oklahoman.

 

  • Caron Butler only made one 3, but made 8-9 foul shots to finish with 15 points.

 

  • Reggie Jackson was great in his role – 16 points on 5-6 shooting (2-3 from 3 and 4-4 from the line). Efficiency, for the win!

 

  • It’s onto to Round 2. Oklahoma City, you can all let out a collective sigh of relief.