(Sports Network) - The Oklahoma City Thunder continue their Western Conference
championship title defense on Sunday afternoon against the Memphis Grizzlies
at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
This Western Conference semifinal matchup came about after both teams won Game
6s on Friday night. The top-seeded Thunder knocked off the Houston Rockets,
while the fifth-ranked Grizzlies exacted revenge from a year ago with a win
over the Los Angeles Clippers.
For the Thunder, this is almost like business as usual. They have advanced
this far the last two postseasons and won the Western Conference one season
But this Thunder team is undermanned.
Russell Westbrook, the All-Star guard, underwent surgery to repair a torn
lateral meniscus in his right knee. The injury occurred in Game 2 against the
Memphis is tired of hearing of how its chances have improved in Westbrook's
"You've got to go play it. Everyone says, 'You can beat them because he's
out.' They just won a series with him out," said Grizzlies coach Lionel
Hollins. "I'm not worried about who they have or don't have."
The Thunder will have a tough time adjusting to the difference in styles of
play. Houston was third in the NBA in scoring, while the Grizzlies are a
defensive-based team, which led the league in opponents' scoring.
"This is like night and day," said Thunder forward Kevin Durant. "We have guys
that can do both. That's the good part about our team. We have guys who can
bang down low with the big guys then run out in transition with the little
guys. We really have to help each other out this series. We have to do a great
job of rebounding, not turning the ball over and helping the bigs out."
In their decisive Game 6, Durant led the Thunder with 27 points. Kevin Martin
anchored a great bench performance with 25 points. Nick Collison and Derek
Fisher both scored double figures in a reserve role, while Serge Ibaka had 10
Ibaka and center Kendrick Perkins, who played less than five minutes in Game
6, will be counted on against the Grizzlies. Memphis' big men, Zach Randolph
and Marc Gasol, are both scoring more in the postseason. Randolph upped his
scoring by 6.0 ppg during the playoffs and Gasol, the reigning Defensive
Player of the Year, is up 3.0 ppg.
Mike Conley is also scoring at a high level (17.3 ppg).
The Grizzlies have never advanced past this stage in the postseason. Friday's
victory over the Clippers marked the second time in franchise history the
Grizzlies won a series.
The Grizzlies fell in seven games to the Thunder in the 2011 Western
Conference semifinals. But, Memphis won two out of three from OKC during the
regular season, including one in Oklahoma City.
The Sports Network