Those who thought that on the merit of having Kevin Durant alone the Oklahoma City Thunder might be favorites in their series against the Memphis Grizzlies were proven wrong in the first game, and were probably fully convinced after game 2, in which the visitors stole home court with a convincing 99-93 win, dominating the fourth quarter through the fantastic Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Conley was bad in the first game, but made up for it with his best performance of the postseason, showing just how badly the Oklahoma City Thunder miss their point guard, Russell Westbrook. Conley scored 26 points, 13 of them coming in the fourth quarter, along with 7 rebounds and 2 assists in the final period alone. Marc Gasol was the one who stepped up inside the paint, scoring 24 points as the Grizzlies completely rules under the baskets, disproving the theory that the Thunder have the bigs to handle the best big-man duo in the NBA.
The Grizzlies made the most of being one of the best teams in the NBA to capitalize off turnovers against a team that relies on one player to do everything. Kevin Durant scored 36 points, adding 11 rebounds and 9 assists, but Memphis were content on letting him shoot and shoot, until pulling the clamp down on him while giving other Thunder players the chance to win the game. It ended in disaster for the Thunder, with only one made field goal for them during the final 5 minutes.
And the Thunder have to find another way except for Durant bringing the ball up the court to try and create points. Yes, it’s been working well, but it’s taking too much out of their best player and making it easier for the Grizzlies to defend and plan ahead. Durant brought the ball across the court 32 times during the game, and the Thunder scored 19 points on those plays. It went much better (29 off 29) in the first game, and it’ll keep getting worse unless Reggie Jackson or someone else gets a chance to take some pressure off Durant, who is being a tad overused.
Mike Conley is now one of the top five point guards in the league, whether anybody likes it or not. I know a lot of people have got their favorites on who they think it should be, but Mike Conley is in that conversation now, being able to do these types of things on the court night in and night out.
Tony Allen might be the biggest Conley fan in the world, but it’s been proven he’s right in the postseason so far, averaging 17.9 points and 7.8 assists so far in the playoffs. He, and the Thunder’s inability to handle Gasol and Randolph in the paint won the game for them offensively – They were outscored 44-16 off field goals from inside 5 feet, allowing Randloph 15 points as both he and Gasol scored over 50% from the field.
Ibaka and Perkins? They combined for 37.5% from the field, scoring 15 points and adding 11 rebounds. Without Kevin Martin stepping up this time to take the load off Durant, the offense got stagnant, as it often those with teams who don’t have creative coaches running the ship, or an all-star point guard missing. All the Derek Fisher three pointers in the world couldn’t help, when a better team, with a deeper bench and a better gameplan stood in their way.