The weekend is over, so it means less busy days of playoff games, and better focus on each one. The Memphis Grizzlies will try and go home with at least some hope and win playing in game 2 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the Los Angeles Clippers, already losing home court advantage, have to win against the Golden State Warriors.
The Thunder didn’t play perfect basketball against the Grizzlies, and they had their bad moments, especially in the third quarter, when their style of simply putting up shots without trying to build better situation in half court offense almost cost them the game. However, constantly running and keeping a high tempo meant the Grizzlies being unable to catch up with Westbrook and Durant, leading to a 14-point win.
The Grizzlies need to slow the game down, which means taking better shots, trying to prevent the fast breaks with fouls, offensive rebounds or hustling on defense. They need more out of Zach Randolph, and probably get Marc Gasol to operate closer to the basket. Jump shooting against the Thunder just leads to more and more fast breaks – a game the Grizzlies can’t win it. Also putting Tony Allen on Kevin Durant for more minutes might work to their advantage.
The Thunder are the better team, with a lot more offensive weapons like Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler coming off the bench. The Grizzlies defense can hold on in half court if they manage to drag the game in that direction, but their best bet on defense is to keep it one on one with Durant, while limiting the openings for Westbrook or open shots for Serge Ibaka.
In Los Angeles, the Clippers are still fuming about some ref calls late and early in the game. It might have cost them a win, and it also cost them Blake Griffin. But even if the Warriors won’t be as good in game 2, that’s not something to count on, and Rivers has plenty of work for the second game.
The Clippers defense crumbled with every pick & roll, especially when Griffin wasn’t on the floor. DeAndre Jordan isn’t making the most of his size advantage in the paint, but he is also creating too many holes with every screen and switch that involves him. He isn’t going to learn help defense overnight, but setting him in a certain role which limits his options of guessing will help the Clippers handle the Warriors movement.
Golden State continue to succeed when Curry doesn’t score, even though it doesn’t make much sense. Simply put, they need big games from Green, Thompson and Barnes, who might not be big men, but they’re playing like they are and this kind of effort from them on both ends of the floor might result in a flight home while holding a two game lead already.