Moments after defeating the Mavs in overtime in that last regular season game, midway through a well-deserved celebration for dodging the Spurs, I realized what situation we had put ourselves in. The Grizzlies would be facing OKC, a true juggernaut- a team with one of the best benches in the league, a team that matched up with use at every position.
Oh, and the team with the best scorer in the league.
And they have Westbrook this time. Westbrook’s injury added an asterisk to the end of our 2013 Playoff victories against OKC, always reminding us that sure we beat them, but we beat them while they were down. Well, it looks like those days might just be behind us.
I knew this time would be entirely different, but I didn’t anticipate this. We’re up 2-1 on the series with two overtime victories and we’ve still got one game at home before heading back to OKC.
It seems that we’ve kind of figured them out. The keys to defeating a powerful offense like the Thunder sound something like this:
o Keep them out of the paint
o Force them to shoot tough, mid-range jumpers
o Contest their threes
o Force turnovers and capitalize on them
That’s the only way to beat the Thunder, and after Game 3, you can put a check mark by each one. It was our second overtime game in a row. It’s not the easy way to do it, but no one ever said grit n grind was the easy way.
Tony Allen is doing what he does best. He’s effectively stopping Kevin Durant in a way no other defender can. Sure Durant is still scoring 30+ points as ESPN likes to remind us daily, but he’s taking more shots than ever to get that done. I feel like this series is a waiting game- we’re all just waiting for Durant to go off. As I sit here and write this post, I’ve already seen Durant on two commercials in five minutes. Its like the basketball gods are dangling him in front of me, hinting at the inevitable.
Much of our success is likely due to Joerger’s exquisite coaching. He’s schemed the team perfectly, and the game plan is spot on- force Durant and Westbrook to take the tough jumpshots. Credit should be given to Tony Allen and Courtney Lee for being the ones to contest those jump shots. Tony Allen is the thorn in Durant’s side right now, and simply put, its hilarious. It never gets old.
Tony has definitely earned those podium interviews.
Looking forward to Game 4, nothing should change. It will never be easy, but we have a huge advantage in the FedEx Forum. Russell Westbrook may not have been familiar with the Grindhouse, but the boys definitely gave him the full tour on Thursday night. That’s the great thing about the Grizzlies- they don’t expect to be respected. They earn respect by playing hard every night and giving Memphis something to Believe in. And I Believe tonight’s going to be a good night.
9:30 pm (ET)