Both teams were coming off a quick turnaround after winning their respective series on Friday night and it showed earlier on. Both sides started out slow, with OKC going 0-10 but only trailing 7-2 after five minutes of play. The poor shooting continued for the rest of the opening quartering, as both teams shot 12-46 made field goals combined resulting in Memphis leading 16-14 after one.Both sides played remarkably better from that point on, and after a closely contested second quarter, Memphis had a 47-46 lead.
Like the first half, Memphis started out the third going on a 7-2 run, and at one point led by 12 before OKC began fighting back. Although the Thunder were still down 73-64 at the end of three.
It was the Thunder's defensive that came up huge in the fourth, holding Memphis to just 18 points as OKC stormed back in the final minutes, eventually tying the game at 84 with 4 minutes left in the game.
After a bit of back and forth, Durant hit the pull up jumper with 11 seconds left to finally put OKC on top, the next possession Marc Gasol turned the ball over with 3 seconds left. After a pair of Reggie Jackson free throws, Jackson mistakenly fouled while Quincy Pondexter was in the act of shooting the game-tying three. However, Pondexter was unable to hit his free throws, sealing game 1 for The Thunder.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Game 1 is usually the game in which both teams try to feel each other out and it showed early on. Although, despite a very ugly first quarter, the game was incredible for the final three quarters.
We knew we'd see a lot more of the Thunder's big men this series, Perkins played 34 minutes tonight, compared to only 4 in game 6. Unfortunately the other Thunder big man, Ibaka, had an incredibly poor night, going 1-10 shooting, while Perkins went 1-6. Both their contributions came in the final minutes of the fourth, as they held Randolph and Gasol in check allowing the Thunder to take the lead in the closing moments.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
The Thunder's defense came up huge in the final quarter, Memphis shot 33% in the final quarter, and went 1-10 in the final six minutes of the game. In that time, OKC outscored Memphis 14-7. The fault mainly rests on Memphis' front court, Mike Conley and Tony Allen shot 6-20 tonight, and went 0-8 in the final six minutes. The shooting woes even stretched to the free throw line for the Grizzlies, as they shot 58% compared to 88% for OKC.
For OKC, it was once again the play of Kevin Martin, who had 25, which came up big for the Thunder. Both him and Reggie Jackson combined for 37 points on the night.
What does this game tell us about what to expect for game 2?
After tonight the challenge for both coaches is to make the adjustments needed to put their team on top in game 2. I think the Grizzlies will try to work the ball more into Gasol and Randolph. OKC didn't do as good of a job defending those two as they did earlier in the regular season.
Also, look for Serge Ibaka and Mike Conley to both bounce back after a disappointing game 1. Neither of their match ups are particularly good defenders, and both just shot the ball poorly tonight, that should change. One thing to look forward to, The Thunder only allowed The Grizzlies to get 4 seconds chance points off 8 offensive rebounds. If they can continue this trend, then there is much to look forward to this series.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 35 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists.
Thunder Down Under: Kevin Martin, 25 points, 7 rebounds.
Thunder Blunder: Serge Ibaka, 5 points, 1-10 FG .
Thunder Plunderer: Marc Gasol, 20 points, 10 rebounds.
Next game: Game 2 vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, May 7th @ 8:30 pm CT. (OKC leads 1-0)
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