Game 7 Grades: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook snuff out the Grizzlies

Catching Fire

Kevin Durant and his running mate led the way as the Thunder once again finished a playoff series over Memphis in game 7.

The Oklahoma City Thunder finally put away the Memphis Grizzlies, and it took a dominant effort in game 7 to do it. Here is how each player performed in the finale of this opening round.

Game 1 Grades

Game 2 Grades

Game 3 grades

Game 4 grades

Game 5 grades

Game 6 grades

***

Durant_medium

KEVIN DURANT GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game stats)
42 33 8 2 1 0 5 +23
KEVIN Grade_a_medium
This guy, man. When Memphis got ahead, Kevin Durant pulled the Thunder back into it. When the Thunder were back into it, Kevin Durant pulled them ahead. KD did his thing, plain and simple.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium Durant finally had what we've come to know as a "Durant game." He shot 12-18 to generate 33 points, and most importantly, rediscovered his long range shooting touch as he went 5-5 from beyond the arc. We kept telling ourselves that KD had to snap out of it, and with the announcement of his first ever MVP awardon the horizon, he finally did.

Westbrook_medium

RUSSELL WESTBROOK GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game stats)
39 27 10 16 1 2 7 +22
KEVIN Grade_aminus_medium
Mess around and get a triple-double? Russ was flying all over the place, crashing the boards and pushing the fast break. The seven turnovers are a sure sign that Westbrook was a bit out of control, but hey, #LETWESTBROOKBEWESTBROOK.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium Just like in 2011's game 7 vs the Grizzlies, Russell Westbrook once again finished them off with a triple-double. In fact, his final stat line was so good, that it put him in rare air. How rare? He's the only one to have ever done it.
Sefolosha_medium

THABO SEFOLOSHA GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game stats)
DNP n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
KEVIN Grade_c_medium
Thabo Sefolosha did not play.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Once again, Sefolosha got a DNP, giving way to Caron Butler in the starting lineup. While it is tough to watch Sefolosha linger on the sideline, it's impossible to argue that the team has been hurt in any way.

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
28 12 4 0 0 2 1 +23
KEVIN Grade_bminus_medium
Ibaka didn't make a huge impact, with the Grizzlies going small often and stretching Ibaka out to the perimeter, but he was solid and did his part without committing any mistakes. All four of his rebounds came on the offensive end, a sign of him taking advantage of the Mike Miller matchup. But where were the defensive rebounds?!
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Serge Ibaka gets a little grade inflation here mostly because the Thunder won in such handily fashion. He was intermittent in his effectiveness, especially on the glass, but fact remains that during the two most pivotal quarters, he helped anchor a defense that only gave up 45 points.
Perk_medium

KENDRICK PERKINS GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
10 4 0 1 0 0 1 +13
KEVIN Grade_bminus_medium Perk did his best work in the series defending Zach Randolph (a matchup that was really favorable for Perk), but with Z-Bo suspended, Perk switched on to Marc Gasol and performed pretty well in a brief performance, especially after the first half. He's not always this helpful, but against a team that identifies itself as a "throw it into the post" team, Perk turned out to be surprisingly helpful to have! He'd have a higher grade if he sustained his play over a few more minutes on the court.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
Kendrick Perkins was the odd man out once the Grizzlies decided to go small out of the gates. In 10 minutes he was able to produce some points, but his rebounding, which had been solid, disappeared. Credit at least to him for his willingness to go along with the program for the benefit of the team.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
26 16 3 1 0 0 2 0
KEVIN Grade_bplus_medium
Not an overwhelming performance like some of the previous games, but Jackson was solid (borderline very good) all around tonight. He got into the paint and carved up the Grizzlies, working his way to the line some as well. He's also developed wonderful confidence in his outside shot. I have no clue why he only played one more minute than Fisher tonight.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
Reggie Jackson will hopefully never have to repeat his Game 4 performance, and the team will only need him to play games like this. He scored 16 points on only 6 shots and went 2-3 from 3-point range. Most importantly, when he is committed to getting the ball to the rim, he usually can because the defense is normally occupied with either Durant or Westbrook.

Butler_medium

CARON BUTLER GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
41 15 4 1 0 2 2 +16
KEVIN Grade_bplus_medium
The three-pointers weren't there tonight, but he made an impact in other ways. Butler got nitty-gritty in the paint, scoring a few buckets there and working his way to the line. The confidence is there and the ugly isolations aren't, so Butler is primed to be a big part of the Thunder's playoff run going forward.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium Caron Butler's shot wasn't falling most of the night, but the way that he was able to produce 15 points anyway is a good testament to his constant adjusting of his game to meet the Thunder's needs. We want him to make 3's, but it is good if he's at least using his strength to get to the FT line. This is the kind of performance that will entrench him in the starting lineup.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
25 8 1 0 0 0 1 -20
KEVIN Grade_bminus_medium
Adams might've done his best work towards a Game 7 win back in Game 6 by getting Zach Randolph suspended, but he showed up for this one and put in a great effort as well. The stats look empty, but he generally hovered as a body in the way for the Grizzlies to deal with and displayed an awful lot of energy.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Interestingly, Steven Adams' offense outshone his defense a game after it was his defense on the Grizzlies' interior that helped stem any comeback attempts. Also interestingly, he got 25 minutes of action, vs 10 for Perkins. Perhaps this is cause to think that Adams can stay in smaller lineups despite his size and inexperience?
Collison_medium

NICK COLLISON GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
DNP N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
KEVIN Grade_c_medium DNP-CD for Collison, which I found curious. He seemed to be a perfect matchup against the small-ball Grizzlies, and I was surprised when he didn't play in the first half - forget the second half. Interesting decision by Scott Brooks not to play him, but it worked out for the Thunder.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Perhaps it was because Brooks was comfortable rolling with Perkins and Adams, but the fact that Collison got a DNP against a team he usually thrives against is confusing. Is he hurt? Is he being saved for later?

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
25 5 2 1 0 1 1 -5
KEVIN Grade_cplus_medium
He didn't help much tonight. Fisher only made one three, and since that's the only place where his value comes from, there's not much to get excited about tonight. At least he wasn't actively bad?
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Derek Fisher got his one 3-pointer, but this was not a series where he was going to do well. Memphis' perimeter defense is too tight and Fisher seldom found daylight. So naturally he played 25 minutes.
Lamb_medium
JEREMY LAMB GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
3 0 1 0 0 0 0 -9
KEVIN Grade_c_medium
Late game cameo.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium If it's Jeremy Lamb time in the playoffs, that probably means the game is decided. How tragic that reality is.

Jones_medium

PERRY JONES III GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 -5
KEVIN Grade_c_medium Late game cameo.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Brooks kept saying Perry Jones was his utility guy. Doesn't a utility tool get used a lot for all sorts of different reasons?

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
KEVIN Grade_b_medium
Tough decision to make here, as I was stumped by the amount of playing time Fisher got and the decision not to play Collison. Nonetheless, he won and that's the measuring stick we use for Brooks. It feels like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were the ones who powered OKC to this win, not any decision or adjustment Brooks made, but in the end, what he did worked pretty well. I guess we can praise him for running KD and Westbrook out there until there was no chance for Memphis to make a comeback?
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
The big challenge heading into this game was for Scott Brooks to make sure his team was ready, in light of the fact that Randolph was out and Mike Conley and Tony Allen were questionable.  It almost fell apart on him too, as the Thunder fell behind by double digits early. However, Brooks led his team to correct themselves as they closed out the 2nd quarter with a big run that put them back on top at the half. OKC continued their dominance into the 2nd half, successfully weathering any comeback Memphis could throw at them.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE GRADE FG% 3P% AST REB BL ST TO
(Advanced Stats)
60.9% 57.9% 22 33 2 7 20
KEVIN Grade_a_medium
They struggled early against an unconventional Grizzlies small-ball look (that they probably weren't fully prepared for, given that it was announced very shortly before the game's start), but rebounded admirably and dominated the rest of the game. KD and Russ got it done, and everyone else did their part in sapping the life out of the Grizzlies. It's a huge way to show up in the Game 7, and now they'll be moving on to second round.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium The Thunder would get an A+ if not for that poor defensive start, but they made amends going forward, shutting down the Grizzlies attack and slowing down Marc Gasol in the post. Their leaders in Durant/Westbrook delivered, but most importantly they got an entire team effort that slowly put the game out of reach in the 2nd half.

*All player images via US Presswire

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