Skip to content

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

May 4, 2013, 6:30 PM EDT

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. Report: Nets reach deals to re-sign Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young

    Jul 1, 2015, 2:12 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets- Game Four Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets- Game Four

    Lopez gets three years, $60 million; Young gets four years, $50 million.

  2. Report: Pacers pushing hard to sign Monta Ellis

    Jul 1, 2015, 1:58 AM EDT

    Monta Ellis Monta Ellis

    The Hawks, Nuggets and Kings are also interested.

  3. Report: Kevin Love to meet with Lakers later in week

    Jul 1, 2015, 12:13 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four Getty Images

    Love said he was committed to Cleveland, now he is flirting with other teams.

  4. Report: Wizards “increasingly optimistic” they can retain Paul Pierce

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Six Getty Images

    The Clippers want him, but they have other, larger concerns.

  5. Reports: Warriors, Hornets both interested in Marco Belinelli

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:16 PM EDT

    belinelli AP

    It’s a deep pool of shooters in free agency.

  6. LeBron James wants Mike Dunleavy on Cavaliers, more likely gets Mo Williams

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    Mo Williams can still score, he’d be a good pickup for the Cavs.

  7. Report: Greg Monroe to meet with Knicks, Lakers, Bucks, Blazers to start free agency

    Jun 30, 2015, 6:03 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Monroe finally has the free agency he turned down a lot of cash to get.

  8. Report: Jimmy Butler postpones meetings with other teams after max qualifying offer from Bulls

    Jun 30, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers

    There is a clear compromise of three years at the max, but will the Bulls and Butler get there

  9. PBT Podcast: The top guys to watch as NBA free agency tips off

    Jun 30, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Lamarcus Aldridge Wesley Matthews Getty Images

    Big men like LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan will shape the free agency landscape.

  10. Scottie Pippen: “I was LeBron James before LeBron James”

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Chicago Fire - Season 3 Getty Images

    Sorry Scottie, LeBron is just the better player.

  11. Report: DeAndre Jordan ’50-50′ in choosing between Mavericks and Clippers

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:03 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five Getty Images

    He’s reportedly seeking a shorter deal, too, which negates L.A.’s inherent advantage.

  12. Report: Lakers among four teams interested in Iman Shumpert

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Shumpert is a restricted free agent, so Cavaliers can match any offer he might receive.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (3977)
  2. D. Wade (3959)
  3. J. Embiid (3588)
  4. L. James (3354)
  5. K. Love (2902)
  1. D. Cousins (2841)
  2. K. Bryant (2803)
  3. T. Harris (2381)
  4. J. Butler (2334)
  5. K. Durant (2242)