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Thunder start fast, cruise to Game 1 win over Grizzlies

Apr 20, 2014, 12:44 AM EDT

Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One Getty Images

Oklahoma City opened its first round playoff series against the Grizzlies firing on all cylinders.

The lead reached as many as 14 points in the first quarter as Memphis managed to shoot just over 17 percent from the field over the game’s first 12 minutes, and the Thunder pushed it to 25 points before halftime as the rout appeared to be on.

But the Grizzlies fought back and cut that lead to two in the second half, and that was ultimately the most interesting part of Oklahoma City’s 100-86 Game 1 victory.

The resiliency that Memphis showed would lead you to believe we may be in for some more dramatic games in this series, but only if the Grizzlies bring it for the full 48 minutes.

The Thunder scored 21 of their 56 first half points on the break, which is way too many for a Grizzlies team that excels in the half-court set on both ends of the floor. During a third quarter where Memphis was locked in offensively and running well-executed sets, the pace slowed a bit and the Grizzlies were able to set their defense, since OKC was beginning almost every possession in the period by taking the ball out of the basket.

That forced some difficult and wild shots from the Thunder in the third, especially by Russell Westbrook. He and Kevin Durant combined to shoot just 1-of-9 in the quarter, as the Grizzlies were alarmingly quick in cutting the lead to single digits.

Durant and Westbrook bounced back in the fourth, however, combining for 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting as the Thunder put together a 13-1 run in a three-minute span to push the lead back up to 14 after Memphis had clawed all the way back to within just two.

Durant finished with 33 points on 13-of-25 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists. Westbrook, meanwhile, ended up with 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, but also turned the ball over five times.

The Grizzlies proved that they can match up with this Thunder team, but they can’t fall behind by anything remotely resembling the deficit that they faced in this one. Memphis isn’t built to overcome that from an offensive standpoint, but defensively, if they can control the tempo and force difficult shots for an entire game they way they did for about a quarter and a half of Game 1, we could see some more competitive contests.

  1. retxedfred - Apr 20, 2014 at 1:41 AM

    This should make for a pretty interesting back and forth series! If the Grizz could contain Durant to <30 or Westbrook to <20 in game 2, Memphis might be able to give themselves a puncher's chance to steal one on the road!

    • redbaronx - Apr 20, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      @retxedfred – Was it you that I told on another post a day or two ago that the Grizzlies had no chance in this series? OK, let me just re-emphasize the point…it’s not even close. The Grizzlies have no scorer and they can’t hang with OKC unless OKC has a cold night. The Grizzlies will win that ONE you talk about if:

      1) If OKC has a terrifically bad shooting night
      2) If OKC feels bad for the Grizzlies and gives them one as part of “NBA Cares” charity program.
      3) If monkeys fly out of my butt!

  2. pfic15 - Apr 20, 2014 at 5:34 AM

    Love OKC. But again, watching Perkins on the floor is gut wrenching. This guy has to go this off season.Even a semi offensively capable center would be an upgrade. This team reminds of the Mavs/Suns of the early 2000s. Always one guy short…. Hope I’m wrong.

    • redbaronx - Apr 20, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      @pfic15 – OKC would really be scary if they had a half decent center. But then again, a lot of NBA teams are looking for a good NBA center. A lot of teams have that problem.

      • pfic15 - Apr 21, 2014 at 10:16 PM

        Agreed. My issue with Perk is that these teams only come around once in awhile. I know the owner is all about avoiding the luxury tax but they could’ve kept the team together. Too bad, I liked the way they put them together.

  3. rodyaugu - Apr 20, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    the refs took over when OKC was losing the lead.

  4. dwhit67 - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    Thunder looked pretty good compared to the other home teams. This series should be good, but Memphis will probably only get one win. The Thunder will have a real test in the second round, but I like the Thunder’s chance to win it all this year. The East is pathetic.

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