Grizzlies-Thunder Game 2 Preview: The Momentum Game
Previewing Game 2 between the Thunder and Grizzlies in the NBA playoffs Tuesday night.
1. Where We Are: 1-0 Thunder by the hair on KD's chinny-chin-chin. A series doesn't start until the road team wins a game, but it sure feels like this thing has started after the Grizzlies lead by double digits late. The question is whether the Grizzlies collapsed or if OKC managed to snag just the right momentum at the right time to survive.
Memphis played at its pace, in its style, to its advantage throughout the game. The Grizzlies hit an offensive lull, and the Thunder took advantage with Kevin Durant hitting big shots, as he is wont to do. But it's hard to make the case that OKC has control of this series. It's 1-0, but Memphis has to like its position.
2. The Big Number: 58.3. That's the Grizzlies' free-throw percentage in Game 1. Memphis missed 10 free throws in a two-point game, despite shooting just one fewer than Oklahoma City, which usually dominates in attempts. Memphis' offense isn't good enough for it to leave points on the table like that. It wasn't just Quincy Pondexter's miss in the final seconds that doomed the Grizzlies. The have to hit their high-percentage looks: layups, free throws, and corner 3s. Their game plan can be great, but if they don't make easy shots, they'll go down 0-2.
3. Key Adjustment: The Grizzlies have to find someone who can check Kevin Martin. Tony Allen, their best perimeter defender, can't guard Durant for long stretches because he picks up fouls. But Allen also struggled with Martin's shiftiness and ability to slither into shot creation. Memphis might want to put Mike Conley on Martin and hope he doesn't bury Conley in the post, allowing Allen to pressure Reggie Jackson with his inexperience, while keeping Tayshaun Prince on Durant and hoping that works out as well as it did in Game 1.
4. The Big Story: Has Oklahoma City found a way to adjust without Westbrook? That question will be asked in each game throughout the end of their playoff run, but it's particularly important in Game 2. Did they find solutions to their problems in that fourth-quarter comeback vs. Memphis, or are they too easily adjusted to and the absence is still going to be so much of a hindrance as to be a distraction? That's the storyline for every OKC game, and particularly this one as Memphis tries to gain control of the series and Oklahoma City tries to make the statement that they still very much have control of their destiny.
5. The Facts: 9:30 p.m. ET start time. Russell Westbrook is out after knee surgery. There are no other injuries known at this time.
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