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NBA Playoffs: Thunder crush Grizzlies in Game 5

May 12, 2011, 12:50 AM EDT

durant-randolph-game-5

As fans, we should have expected this.

After the Thunder and the Grizzlies played the best and most competitive game of these playoffs in Game 4, when the teams fought through three overtimes before the final outcome was decided, they needed less than two quarters of basketball to decide Game 5. OKC used a 15-2 run late in the second quarter to break things open, and Memphis simply couldn’t muster the energy to make a game of it, as the Thunder cruised to a blowout 99-72 win to take a commanding three games to two lead in the series.

The lack of energy is really the only explanation for the Grizzlies’ play: they have largely been the aggressor in every game they’ve played this postseason, but that multi-overtime loss seemed to weigh heavily on them on Wednesday.

Both teams started out tight (or just tired), on the way to just 34 combined points at the end of the first quarter. But as the Thunder started to find their way offensively, Memphis just couldn’t get much of anything going. As a team, the Grizzlies finished just 28 of 78 from the filed, and the Thunder poured it on in the fourth, with bench players like Daequan Cook going nuts for 13 points in the final frame, and visibly enjoying themselves while doing so.

The good news for Memphis is, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the team rebound for a similarly big win in Game 6. OKC wasn’t amazing defensively or anything in Game 5; the Grizzlies simply didn’t have it in this one. It might be oversimplifying things, but really, the lack of energy from Memphis from the opening tip really was the biggest factor in the Thunder’s victory.

“I still believe in my team and I still believe we’ll come back,” Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins said in his post-game press conference that was streamed live on NBA.com. “For us, it’s a one-game series.”

In reality, it’s probably a two-game series. Things are going to be crazy in Memphis on Friday, and just like the Grizzlies struggled to dig deep in Game 5, expect the Thunder to be just as overmatched emotionally on the road in Game 6. After all, both teams were drained Wednesday, but the Thunder absolutely had to have this game if they were to continue to entertain thoughts of advancing to the conference finals. Memphis knew they had the next one at home, and played like it for the better part of three quarters.

Now, the Grizzlies will need to expend all that energy they saved in Oklahoma City on this night to force a deciding Game 7. And if they can, we may see a battle even more epic than the triple-overtime clash we saw in Game 5.

  1. dwighthowardisamazing - May 12, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    its about time….YEEE DURANT

  2. juan1solo - May 12, 2011 at 1:48 AM

    Okc showed why they are among the elite in the western conference. Despite a 3 ot game they fought through. Props to durant the hardest working man in the biz… Time for marc gasol to join his brother and take some time of. Its over for menphis…

  3. memphismiracle - May 12, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    That was a tough one to watch. The Grizzlies just couldn’t get it going and looked like they were sleepwalking through the game. I still think the Grizz can push this to 7 games, but I don’t know if they have the energy at this point to overtake the Thunder. Such a great series so far though.

  4. thestudiokida - May 12, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    I think everybody did expect this. Memphis had to come back down to Earth eventually. I believe they’ll win Game 6 but that will be the last game they play in front of their home crowd.

    Now all that I hope is that the Thunder have figured it out and can take out Dallas.

    • grizz2202 - May 12, 2011 at 12:35 PM

      While it’s true that everybody did expect this, it’s only because of their own lack of research. The Grizz had a top 5 record in the NBA since January, had a top 3 record in the NBA in home games since January, led the league in points in the paint (a key stat, especially come playoff time with the physical play) and creating turnovers, which will keep you in any game.

      The Grizz also beat the Spurs in 6, which would not have been an easy feat for anyone. Don’t let the “talking heads” fool you: the Spurs are much better than Memphis made them look. While they are getting older, they didn’t collapse in 6 games. Memphis just had a better team than people are giving credit for. This series with the Thunder should show everyone that.

      While we may not win out this series (and hats off to the Thunder, they are a great team that should get more press than they do), if the national media cared at all about any teams outside of Boston, New York, LA, Chicago and Dallas, everyone would have known and expected this out of Memphis. To say that “Memphis had to come back down to Earth eventually” implies that we’ve been overachieving in the playoffs, which is not true. We’ve been playing as well as our 32-18 record since Jan. 1 would indicate.

      • thestudiokida - May 12, 2011 at 12:53 PM

        Those are all good points and I agree that Memphis is better than an 8-seed but they still are doing better than anybody thought especially considering the loss of Rudy Gay. I wrote them off after they lost their best player but surprise surprise; Zach Randoph stepped up and showed that he is the best player on the team.

        Somtetimes a guy has to get hurt for a team to find its identity. I feel like a similar thing happened with Portland this year. Brandon Roy went out indefinitely and when everybody wrote them off LaMarcus Aldridge took over and refused to let the team quit. Anyways, I hope the Grizz keep it going.

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