NBA playoffs: Grizzlies, facing Thunder tonight, are keeping things in perspective
NBA Playoffs continue Monday evening. The Memphis Grizzlies host the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Fedex Forum in Game 4 of their second-round, Western Division NBA playoff series. The game will air at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
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What to expect in Game 4Skip to next paragraph
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In their fourth playoff meeting tonight at the FedexForum, Memphis’ fortunes will rest squarely on the continued strong scoring of Randolph, and center Marc Gasol. If Oklahoma City’s big men – center Kendrick Perkins and power forward Serge Ibaka – are burned in a fashion similar to Game 1, Memphis should have a good night.
And depending on how much of a scoring run Oklahoma City goes on against the Grizzlies’ starters, you might see Memphis return to a smaller, faster lineup such as the one led by reserve forward Shane Battier that helped them win Game 3 in such dramatic fashion. This would have the added benefit of keeping the Memphis crowd electrified and loud – as it always helps to have a “sixth man” (as a team’s fans are often referred to) in the house.
Oklahoma City, for its part, must try and stay out of foul trouble – they committed 30 to Memphis’ 17 in game 3. That helped Memphis get to the free-throw line 44 times for 30 charity points. The Thunder also need the bench to excel, as was the case in Game 2 - meaning guards James Harden and Eric Maynor have to step up big and score in double-figures.
Oklahoma City’s ball-handlers also must protect the ball in the process; if the Thunder commit 18 turnovers again as they did in Game 1, they’re in real trouble, because their very average defense hasn’t been able to keep Memphis under 100 points in any of the previous three contests. Add to this the Grizzlies, in that first game in particular, proved very opportune on the boards - grabbing 17 offensive rebounds and scoring 22 second chance points.
Memphis has generally worked harder throughout this series. Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, at 27 points per game, has been the team’s most reliable scorer, but otherwise, the Thunder have demonstrated a generally erratic offense and lackluster defense. This has permitted the more aggressive Grizzlies to focus on and exploit the Thunder’s offensive and defensive miscues. If the Thunder allow those trends to continue this evening, by the end of the night they will be on the verge of losing the series.