The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2nd round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, 4-1. In a series that was hair-splittingly close until it wasn't, we are left to enter the long off-season with a series of what-if's on our minds. Before we get to those questions, we take a final look at how each player performed in these 5 grit-grind-games.
Individual Game Grades
(All statistics are series averages)
28.8 PPG, 10.4 REB, 6.6 AST, 1.2 ST, 1.2 BL, 4.4 TO
|I've said my piece about Durant in another article, and it pretty much echoes what J.A. says below. Kevin Durant blew a lot of opportunities in the fourth quarter after some amazing games because he was asked to do too much. Still, he did the best job that he could. However, this series did do an effective job of proving that Kevin Durant would make an excellent point guard. His court vision is almost as good as James Harden's, and his ballhandling and passing have definitely improved over the years. So I'll give him a B+ for showing off new skills, but I can't go any higher than that because of his bad clutch performance. Is this unfair? Totally.
|It is all but impossible to give Kevin Durant any sort of meaningful grade for this series. If you look at his game-by-game statistics, you see a steady decline in efficiency and production. After game 1, an ending that featured Durant hitting a dagger and reminding everyone how great he can be, the wear and tear of dealing with a Grizzly defense that was exclusively designed to shut down KD and no other for upwards of 45 minutes a game (including all 48 in Game 5) took its toll. Durant may not have played great in games 2-5, but I honestly don't know how he could have played any better.
13.8 PPG, 6.2 REB, 3.8 AST, 0.4 ST, 0.4 BL, 1.8 TO
12.6 PPG, 8.4 REB, 0.4 AST, 3.2 BL, 0.8 TO
4.6 PPG, 3.4 REB, 1.4 AST, 0.6 ST, 0.8 TO
2.4 PPG, 4.2 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.4 ST, 0.6 BL, 2.2 TO
14.4 PPG, 3.6 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.2 ST, 0.4 BL, 0.8 TO
9.4 PPG, 1.6 REB, 0.8 AST, 0.6 ST, 1.0 TO
|I'm sure Thunder fans will always fondly remember Derek Fisher, especially when his career finally ends in 2016 or so. Even I have a hard time hating him at this point. He's a really intelligent player that made some really crucial defensive and passing plays down the stretch. He has a cool head in the clutch, and can hit game-winning threes like they're nothing. The sad thing is, Derek Fisher is old. Though no one pointed it out, he was always a huge defensive matchup liability, and gave a lot of free trips to the rim. He could never handle the ball effectively, and that's no more apparent than now, at 38 years old. And when you get right down to it, his shot just isn't as consistent as it used to be. Flashes of Fisher are always there, but when you look at the sum total of what he's done, he's been a net negative. Still, he is what he is.
|Derek Fisher, man. What are we going to do with this guy? At times, he was a revelation. At other times like in Game 5, he fulfilled my worst nightmares. Does that mean his contribution evened out? Here is the problem, in a nutshell. Fisher would have made the perfect 3rd string backup PG behind Reggie Jackson. However, that isn't how Brooks chose to use him, instead treating Fisher as the de facto shooting guard who couldn't shoot or defend. To Fisher's credit he did hit a hot streak earlier in the series, and that was quite a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, his shooting regressed to the mean and by Game 5, he was hoisting 11 3-pointers, and only hitting 2* of them. Every time he hoisted another, I started getting John Starks flashbacks. However, the problematic question remained. If not Fisher, then who?
3.6 PPG, 4.0 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.4 ST, 0.8 BL, 2.0 TO
|I was mildly impressed by what Scott Brooks was able to do in this series. He was willing to try new things (though slower than most), and he realized the ineffectiveness of certain players and was willing to yank them when the time called for it. Still, he does favor certain players for no reason at times, and, as I've pointed out before, didn't rest Durant. On the scale of Scott Brooks, I'd say he wholly exceeded expectations. But he's still a middle of the road coach in my book. Hopefully the offense becomes more dynamic in the off-season, and he gives players roles they're suited for, rather than roles that fit into a particular system. Most of all, I hope he gives the young guys some burn.
|Scott Brooks came into the Memphis series with serious questions about his ability to adapt. While his coaching decisions and roster rotations are still quirky at times, I think he did enough in this series, despite the loss, to show that he has grown in these playoffs. That said, the one question that will remain for a long time is why he didn't give Durant more rest. To be sure Brooks probably thought that resting Durant in the 2nd half of games would have spelled doom, but he perhaps missed the fact that the Grizzlies don't run away from teams like the Spurs or Heat do. Their offense comes in starts and stops, so a rested Durant at the ends of games would still have been potentially able to provide winning points. No, the big failing by Brooks this year was in not developing a more tested offensive system that could weather the loss of key players. Once Westbrook went down, there was no system in place on which the players could rely. We can only hope this now 3-year oversight will be addressed in the offseason.