After two games in this series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies, one thing is very obvious. With the series now moving to Memphis, the Thunder cannot expect to simply out score the Grizzlies, they need to toughen up and play some defense. In Game 2, the Thunder lost, even though they got 19 unlikely points out of veteran Derek Fisher and very nearly a triple-double out of superstar Kevin Durant (36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists).
The problem in that game was not on the offensive end, it was with the Thunder’s defense. They allowed Mike Conley to take over the game with a near triple-double of his own (26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists), while also allowing Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to dominate the paint.
The Thunder must do better inside against Gasol and Randolph. This is certainly no easy task as they might be the best big man combo in the league. That being said, the Thunder have two very capable interior defenders in Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. These two simply must play better if the Thunder expect to win Game 3.
Obviously, Oklahoma City is not the same team without Russell Westbrook. He is their point guard and arguably one of the five or 10 best players in the league. The Thunder have to adapt to life without their star point guard and one way to do that is to improve defensively. The Grizzlies dominate down low, but aside from the occasional big game out of Conley, they do not have much fire power from the perimeter. If OKC can keep the duo of Randolph and Gasol in check, they probably will come out victorious. If they allow the Memphis big men to control the paint, I give the edge to the Grizzlies.
Prediction: Memphis 94, Oklahoma City 87
I think Durant has another outstanding game, scoring a majority of the points for his team. That being said, I like the balance Memphis has on offense, and think that their outstanding low-post duo continues to dominate Perkins and Ibaka. Give me the home team in this one.