Skip to content

PBT NBA Playoff Preview: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

May 4, 2013, 6:30 PM EST

Tayshaun Prince, Kevin Durant

SEASON RECORDS

Memphis: 56-26, fifth seed in the West

OKC: 60-22, one seed in the West

PLAYOFF RECORDS

Memphis: Beat the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2

OKC: Beat the Houston Rockets 4-2

SEASON SERIES

Grizzlies took two of the three meetings.

KEY INJURIES

Russell Westbrook is out for the playoffs after undergoing surgery for a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possession) – PLAYOFFS ONLY

Memphis: Offense 109.7 (2nd in the postseason), Defense 104.9 (11th in the postseason)

OKC: Offense 109.2 (3rd in the postseason), Defense 101.9 (8th in the postseason)

THREE KEYS TO THE SERIES:

The Thunder’s ability to get consistent scoring from players not named Kevin Durant: With the loss of Russell Westbrook at this late stage of the season, OKC is forced to adjust on the fly without their most explosive player, and the one who led the team in field goal attempts over the course of the season. Replacing what Westbrook gave the Thunder will be a tall task against a solid Grizzlies team that’s more than capable of locking down defensively at times, so the likes of Kevin Martin and Reggie Jackson will need to provide reliable production from the guard spots for the Thunder to advance.

The continued brilliance of Mike Conley: The Grizzlies’ point guard has played as well as anyone in this postseason, and carved up the Clippers with averages of 17.3 points, 8.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game that were all better than his regular season averages. Conley was especially great in the closeout Game 6, finishing with 23 points on seven shots, after getting to the free throw line for a whopping 17 attempts.

There’s a reason that the Grizzlies offense, which was below average during the regular season, came to life against the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. Conley’s ability to have high assist, low turnover games has been key in his team’s surge on that end of the floor, and his ability to feed Zach Randolph in the post with perfectly-placed passes has helped his big man dominate for stretches inside.

Memphis is built on defense, certainly. But Conley is the key to bringing their offense to a respectable level that can actually make the Grizzlies a legitimate contender in the Western Conference.

Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins: These two didn’t have a great first round series against the Rockets, but the matchups are much more favorable in the second round against a Grizzlies team that relies heavily on its two bigs inside. Oklahoma City may be uniquely qualified to slow the Memphis frontcourt attack with both Ibaka and Perkins, as well as with Nick Collison off the bench.

OUTLOOK

The burden will be on Durant to carry the Thunder offensively in this series, and he’s more than capable of doing so. The problem is that Memphis has a strong wing defender in Tony Allen who can at least make Durant work for his points, and if the Grizzlies can force Durant into low shooting percentage games, while containing the rest of of the Thunder’s role players, it could be trouble for Oklahoma City.

The Grizzlies’ ability to play good team defense, along with their improved offense we’ve witnessed so far this postseason, should be enough to get them into the Conference finals.

PREDICTION

Grizzlies in six.

Latest Posts
  1. Nike unveils latest signature shoe for Kobe Bryant, the Kobe X (PHOTOS)

    Jan 31, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    150114_KOBE_X_0093_v5-xlr_37350

    The tenth in Bryant’s signature line returns to a low-top silhouette, and the first colorway is inspired by Kobe’s early morning high dive as he recovered from ACL surgery.

  2. Report: Nuggets trying to trade for Brook Lopez

    Jan 31, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    Brooklyn Nets V Memphis Grizzlies Getty Images

    Denver’s offer of J.J. Hickson and JaVale McGee isn’t enough for Brooklyn to pull the trigger — especially with Lopez coming off of a 35-point, 12-rebound performance against the Raptors.

  3. Last summer Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant talked, decided it wouldn’t work together

    Jan 31, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Those two together at this stage of their careers are a poor fit together.

  4. DeMarcus Cousins says he ‘didn’t expect’ to make the All-Star team

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:59 PM EST

    Toronto Raptors v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    It took Kobe Bryant being injured for Cousins to make the squad.

  5. Anthony Davis out Friday night vs. Clippers due to abdominal strain

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:56 PM EST

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    This is not a serious injury, but they will miss him defending Blake Griffin.

  6. Rumor: Heat, Clippers, Cavaliers interested in Mo Williams

    Jan 30, 2015, 5:59 PM EST

    Mo Williams AP

    All of those teams could use point guard depth.

  7. Jimmy Butler even plans to play defense in the All-Star Game

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:29 PM EST

    BKN-NBA-BULLS-LAKERS Getty Images

    “So if you see me diving on the floor and people say ‘what is he doing?’ I can’t help but be the player that I am.” —Jimmy Butler on playing in the All-Star Game

  8. LeBron James reportedly asked Adam Silver for longer All-Star break, fewer back-to-backs

    Jan 30, 2015, 2:09 PM EST

    2012 Sports Illustrated Sportsman Of The Year Award Presentation - Arrivals Getty Images

    NBA Commissioner has delivered on All-Star Break. Back-to-backs next?

  9. Tyson Chandler, better than ever, thinking legacy

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:49 PM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Will center stick with Mavericks this time?

  10. Mike Dunleavy is smooooth

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:11 PM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Sliding into your DMs like…

  11. DeMarcus Cousins wins.

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:33 AM EST

    Kings center waits five years, burns Clay Travis for tweet

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Howard (7275)
  2. K. Durant (6799)
  3. C. Anthony (6756)
  4. R. Rubio (6753)
  5. K. Bryant (6528)
  1. L. James (6474)
  2. H. Whiteside (6430)
  3. K. Walker (6350)
  4. K. Martin (6166)
  5. J. Butler (6053)