Facing off against his former team in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, Kevin Martin appears to have shaken off the jitters and is lighting up the stat sheet. The Memphis Grizzlies trek south and take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday Night where the visitors will be hungry to knot the series up at one — Martin is the key if the Thunder hope to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.
When Russell Westbrook went down earlier this postseason, the expectations for Kevin Durant skyrocketed, but Martin’s name was not being thrown around as much as it should have. Perhaps overlooked, Martin has emerged as a go-to-guy this postseason and is scoring the rock at a career-high pace. In his last two playoff games, Martin has combined for 50 points which is the highest total in consecutive games in his playoff career.
Martin’s ability to find a comfort zone has been huge, but he must continue to shoot lights out if the Thunder hope to compete against a Memphis team that prides themselves on the defensive side of the ball. Anchoring the second unit, Martin has played in 72 of a possible 96 minutes in the last two games combined — hopefully the increase in minutes does not affect the 30-year-old in a negative manner.
Either way, Martin can’t afford to have a clunker in game two because the series will turn to the Fedex Forum on Saturday where the Grizzlies were 32-9 during the regular season and a 2-0 lead sounds much better than a 1-1 series tie.