The Thunder fought hard and you knew that they wasn’t going to go down without a fight. Quincy Pondexter made a three-pointer with about six minutes left in the 4th quarter that put the Grizzlies up by ten. By then, the Thunder had just overcome a double digit deficit from the 3rd quarter. And still, the Thunder fought back.
It was close. Like all the other games in this series, it was a close finish.
The Grizzlies could’ve avoided a last second shot by the Thunder. Zach Randolph, with the Grizzlies up by two, had the chance to seal the deal being at the free throw line. But no, he missed them both and the Thunder had a chance. I said to go for the win. But Kevin Durant took a fairly open shot from mid-range and he missed. I’ll get to his struggles later. But yeah me missed that and the Grizzlies, Tony Allen, made two free throws and that was the game.
Why did it take five games? What went wrong for the Thunder? I said before that with Westbrook out, the Thunder were in trouble. The Grizzlies’ defense had it easy because the Thunder’s offense was too simple: Give the ball to Westbrook and Durant. There wasn’t much play-calling beyond that. And you saw it tonight. Durant would actively take on multiple players from the Grizzlies. Our man Charles Barkley pointed this out. The ball needed to move around because Durant just isn’t capable of scoring 35 each night. The rest of the Thunder stepped up better than I thought but the end result was expected.
So what about the Grizzlies? This is the first time in franchise history that they are in the conference finals. Can they go further? I’d like to think so. I think they can beat the Warriors but the Spurs would cause some problems. But, at this point, I see the Grizzlies as a threat to the Heat. I see both the Grizzlies and the Spurs as threats. Memphis needs to keep up the defense. And while the Clippers and Thunder were not top dogs defensively, the Spurs are quite the defensive team.
I would prefer to see Memphis and Spurs play for that defensive struggle. And it’s that defense that is capable of beating the Heat. I also see rebounding as key as well. For as great as the Heat are, they are not so great with rebounds. Both Spurs and Grizzlies got that covered.
So we’ll see. People talked about how odd it was to trade Rudy Gay, the leading scorer at the time, for Tashaun Prince, who actually decimated the Thunder defense with the dunk of the night and a top one for the playoffs. I liked the trade and the team has improved without him. So again, I think the Grizzlies will go far and for next round, I see them involved with a game six or seven no matter who they face.
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