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Preview: Durant can do more but will need more help for OKC to even series with Memphis

May 13, 2013, 7:02 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three Getty Images

When you hear GMs — or sometimes television pundits or Internet bloggers — talking about a team needing an identity, this series is exactly why.

The Thunder have had to scramble under pressure to develop a new identity without Russell Westbrook, to figure out how they can generate baskets outside Kevin Durant. The result was an ugly end for the Thunder in Game 3 and Durant coming out later and saying, “I can do a lot more.”

The Grizzlies know exactly who they are and what they want to do. It’s not always pretty but it is effective.

And that’s where we are at with Game 4 — Oklahoma City needs a big Night from Kevin Martin or Serge Ibaka or someone else, they need to find an identity fast. It’s not technically a must win game for OKC, but if the Thunder go down 3-1 in this series it’s hard to see how they climb out of the hole.

Not to sound simplistic, but the team that actually makes shots this game will win. The winning team shot 40.5 percent last game. It wasn’t pretty.

That is especially true for the Thunder — somebody not named Durant needs to knock down a shot. Anyone. Durant was 9-of-19 last game and you take that out and the rest of the Thunder shot 33 percent last game. Without Durant they were 3-of-12 from three. And with the Grizzlies defense geared up on him Durant can’t be as efficient as he normally is. The man needs help.

Memphis knows they got away with one in Game 3 — the Thunder won the battle on the boards, the points in the pain, the fast break points, the best postgame meal (probably). On paper, the Thunder should have won, save for the fact they couldn’t hit a shot. Give credit to the Grizzlies defense, but if they get outplayed like that again. Mike Conley and Zach Randolph were a combined 7-of-21 shooting, if that happens again the Grizzlies will lose. That simple.

Memphis has the advantage of knowing who and what the team is. OKC will have to figure it out on the fly or be in a deep, deep hole.

  1. melkipershero - May 13, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Durant needs to shoot more. Dude might be the best pure jump shooter going right now. Add in the fact he’s proabably 7 foot tall and you can’t defend him. Tony Allen can D up the best of them but Durant can shoot over him and everyone else basically. The Grizz’s bigs are the best 1-2 inside game going in the NBA right now which makes them a tough matchup for anyone. Go Grizz!

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 14, 2013 at 2:45 AM

      He can shoot over almost anyone, and go past everyone who’s his height if they came out, but trying to shoot over someone getting a hand up still makes the shot more difficult than it would be with a clean look. They’re making him work for everything. Those are HARD 30 points that he’s scoring and it’s clearly wearing him out at the ends of games.

      But then again, Melo is in the same exact scenario (now Durant sees how it feels to carry a bunch of role players and supposed All-Stars [Ibaka, in Durant’s case, Chandler, in Anthony’s] who are getting BADLY outplayed by their counterparts on both ends of the floor), and has less space to operate with the perimeter and interior presence making every shot difficult.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - May 14, 2013 at 2:48 AM

        But I like what the Grizzlies are selling, and I was picking them even before the playoffs began to beat the Thunder, with or without Russ, because they are missing Harden. Not many thought they would because the regular season is random and not indicative of matchup exploitation, but even with Russ, they miss Harden’s slashing ability and propensity to get calls and score with the clock stopped in crucial moments.

        Martin won’t go near the paint without a predetermined wild flop intended to draw a foul call when he’s barely (if at all) touched. Harden just threw himself at the rim. Without a bona fide interior scoring threat, that’s what’s sinking them more than anything Russ would have been able to provide.

  2. BigBeachBall - May 13, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    Worst playoffs in history…

    • raysfan1 - May 13, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      I didn’t realize The Comic Book Store Guy commented on basketball blogs.

    • WatchThis - May 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      Easiest Miami road to the ring in playoff history?

  3. raysfan1 - May 13, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    Durant has lead the team in scoring, rebounds, and assists in each of the first three games. His production is not the issue. It’s the lack of sufficient help.

  4. mungman69 - May 13, 2013 at 10:17 PM

    Best playoffs in history.

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