Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
Assuming the Thunder make easy work of the Jazz in their first-round series, they should have ample time to rest up and prepare for the winner of the Clippers-Grizzlies series.
Los Angeles and Memphis met in the first round of last season's playoffs and it was a very physical, grind-it-out kind of affair. These two teams are not the best of friends and it will show on the court.
While the Grizzlies are a little offensively deficient without their primary scorer Rudy Gay (who was traded to Toronto earlier this season), they certainly make up for it defensively. Because of their toughness on D, it will make for a closely-contested and longer series against the offensively potent Clippers.
Hardcore and casual NBA fans everywhere would love to see the Clippers take on the Thunder with so much elite talent battling it out. Just think about Chris Paul vs Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant vs Caron Butler and Serge Ibaka vs Blake Griffin. That has all the makings for some entertaining basketball and highlight plays.
The Thunder, however, would much rather face a Memphis Grizzlies team that they could handle a lot easier.
Memphis is a tough, blue-collar team that's banded together well after Gay's departure, but Oklahoma City simply has too many offensive options (Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Martin) for the Grizzlies to try and shut down. Without being able to focus on just one or even two guys all the time, the Grizz will be spread just a little too thin against a Thunder team that shoots well and moves well without the ball on offense.
At the end of the day, defense may win championships, but that simply won't be enough for Memphis in this case as OKC will be able to outgun them in every which way in a possible playoff scenario.