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2013 NBA Playoffs: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 1 Preview

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The Thunder continue onward, welcoming the Memphis Grizzlies into the 'Peake to do battle in the 2nd round, game 1.

W. Bennett Berry

2012-2013 NBA PLAYOFFS Round 2
The Memphis Grizzlies (45-37)
The Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22)
May 5th, 2013
The Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
12:00 PM Central Daylight Time
WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), SportsTalk 790
Enemy Blogs: Grizzly Bear Blues, 3 Shades of Blue
Playoffs: 0-0
Regular Season Series: Nov. 14, Jan. 31, March 20 (Grizzlies won series, 2-1)
Injury Report: Russell Westbrook (Out)
Probable Starters
Reggie Jackson PG Mike Conley
Thabo Sefolosha SG Tony Allen
Kevin Durant SF Tayshaun Prince
Serge Ibaka PF Zach Randolph
Kendrick Perkins C
Marc Gasol

Fresh off the heels of a challenging opening round, the Thunder have precious little time to regroup and face a team that could not be more diametrically opposed to the OKC's first round opponents.

In round 1, the Thunder faced a young, fast, 3-point shooting team with barely any inside game of which to speak. This match-up posed great challenges especially after Russell Westbrook was lost for the rest of the playoffs with a torn meniscus. As a result, for 3 games OKC struggled mightily to figure out how to match up favorably against the Rockets and the Thunder nearly blew a 3-0 series lead in the process.

In the 2nd round, the Thunder face their nemesis from the 2011 playoffs, the Grizzlies. As opposed to Houston, the Grizz are an interior-dominated team, relying on Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to produce both offense and tenacious defense. While Memphis cannot boast of prolific 3-point shooting, they do have enough timely shooters between Mike Conley and Jarryd Bayless to keep their offense balanced.

OKC's struggles in the 1st round should have us all rightly concerned, but this is going to be a vastly different game and series than the previous round. The Thunder match up well in the interior, possessing in Perkins, Ibaka, Nick Collison, Hasheem Thabeet, and even Daniel Orton, 5 capable big men to go to battle against Gasol and Z-Bo.

Make no mistake - without Westbrook, the Thunder are no longer the prohibitive favorites. However, because they match up so well on the inside and because the Grizz have never seen the Thunder's current make-up with Reggie Jackson at the helm, we may be in for a little surprise in Game 1.

Watch out for:

  • How well the Thunder defend the paint and get defensive rebounds. Will Durant stay at home to keep Memphis off the offensive glass?
  • Will Durant continue to play point-forward? How will Memphis trap him high out side the arc, and how will Durant distribute out of this set?
  • How will Jackson deal with the Grizzlies' defensive pressure?
  • Who is going to be the Thunder player that steps up on offense?

Prediction: Thunder 94, Grizzlies 90.