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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.
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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Game 7 Preview

gasol ibaka thunder grizzlies

  • When: Saturday, 03 May 2014 at 7:00 PM CST
  • Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

Game 7. Those are the only 2 words you need to know about this game. Win or go home for both teams. Thankfully we have home court advantage. Game 6 was more what I expected to see from this team throughout this first round match-up. If Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would have played 10% better in Games 2-5, this would’ve been a 5 game series. Instead, they struggled and allowed the Grizzlies to win three of four games that went to overtime.

Then the headline happened.

Durant doesn’t need motivation. There are some players that are self-motivated. Motivated by success. Motivated by legacy. Motivated by the hate to lose. That’s Durant. He’s been that way since day one. But sometimes, stupid headlines can piss you off to the point where it appears like motivation. If having your back against the wall wasn’t motivation enough, then this headline probably served as a accelerant, not only for Durant, but also for the entire team (coaches included).

Game 6 is more the pace that I expected to see from the team. Russell Westbrook playing a smart game, Serge Ibaka controlling the paint, Reggie Jackson giving what was needed when he was in the game, and Durant being his MVP self. More importantly, though, nothing came easy for the Grizzlies. The Thunder completely iced any pick and roll and the Grizzlies were not up to the task from the perimeter.

3 Keys to the Game

1. Adjustments – Oklahoma City made them in Game 6. The Grizzlies are being forced to make them in Game 7. The Zach Randolph suspension not only throws a wrench in the Grizzlies’ plans, but also in the Thunder’s plans. What do the Grizzlies plan to do? Will they start small with James Johnson or Mike Miller or will they remain big with either Kosta Koufos or Ed Davis? If the Grizzlies go small, expect to see Perkins’ minutes go down extensively. If the Grizzlies go big, business as usual.

2. Injured Bears – Randolph and Nick Calathes suspended. Mike Conley has a strained hamstring that he says would have kept him on the sidelines if this was a regular season game. Tony Allen is questionable because of migraines associated with an injured eye suffered in Game 6. To all of this, I say, poppycock. To me, all this information is lip service. Conley and Allen will play and will leave it all on the floor.

allen jackson westbrook ibaka thunder grizzlies

3. Pace – The biggest difference in Game 6 from Games 2-5, was pace. The Thunder pushed the ball and had the Grizzlies on skates all night. We’ll probably see a lot more small ball from the Grizzlies in this gam due to the Randolph suspension. But, it won’t be new to the Grizzlies. The dirty secret about the Randolph suspension is that the Grizzlies rarely played with Z-Bo in the 4th quarters of games. Gasol is a better big to have in small ball line-ups and it showed many times late in games in this series.