What was Memphis’ reward for beating Dallas in the final game of the season? A series with the other great team in the NBA, Oklahoma City. They’ll be so glad.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will be desperate for a return to the NBA Finals after last year’s disappointing second-round exit after Russell Westbrook’s knee injury robbed them of their momentum and their wrecking ball.
The Grizzlies will need to call on all their strengths of character to overcome this beast in the same vain they went to the well to top the odds in their slog for a playoff berth. This team was dead and buried thanks to various injuries to key players – including a chunk of time missed by Marc Gasol – early in the season.
These two teams have met several times in the playoffs now and always produce great series, with Memphis knocking off Oklahoma City last season in the second-round as the Grizzlies produced just enough offense to keep themselves out in front of the weakened Thunder.
Team Vs Team
The Thunder hold all the match-up advantages in this game. They boast the MVP-elect, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook is one of the fastest players in history. Serge Ibaka is a one-man defensive wrecking crew and Reggie Jackson has shown great progression to becoming a legitimate weapon on offense.
The real sticking point for the Thunder will be trying to counter the one-two punch of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. While Ibaka will be able to handle one of the pair, to defend both would require either Durant giving up significant size or Kendrick Perkins being on the floor for large swathes of the game, screwing up the Thunder’s offensive spacing by virtue of him adding absolutely zero to the attack.
Game 1: Thunder 116, Grizzlies 100 (12/11/13, FedExForum)
Russell Westbrook scored 27 points not long after his early return from last season’s knee injury. The Grizzlies never got within double digits in the fourth quarter despite Kevin Durant (18 points) and Westbrook sitting for the duration.
Game 2: Thunder 87, Grizzlies 90 (1/14/14, FedExForum)
Marc Gasol inspired the Grizzlies to a tough win in his first game for eight weeks. Courtney Lee canned two clutch free-throws to seal the victory. Kevin Durant scored 37 points on 15-for-28 shooting.
Game 3: Grizzlies 77, Thunder 86 (2/3/14, Chesapeake Energy Arena)
The Thunder beat Memphis using their own grind-it-out style, ending Memphis’ six-game winning streak. Kevin Durant had yet another near triple-double, this time with 31 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.
Game 4: Grizzlies 107, Thunder 113 (2/28/14, Chesapeake Energy Arena)
Durant scored 30 of his 37 points in the second half, going10-for-15 from the field and 8-for-8 from the foul line in the second half to secure this win.
Game 1: Saturday, April 19th | at Oklahoma City | 9:30pm ET | ESPN | Thunder tickets
Game 2: Monday, April 21st | at Oklahoma City | 8pm | TNT |
Game 3: Thursday, April 24th | at Memphis | 8pm | TNT |
Game 4: Saturday, April 26nd | at Memphis | 9:30pm | ESPN |
*Game 5: Tuesday, April 29th | at Oklahoma City | TBD |
*Game 6: Thursday, May 1st | at Memphis | TBD |
*Game 7: Saturday, May 3rd | at Oklahoma City | TBD |
* – if necessary.