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If Game 1 is any indication of how intense this series is going to be, fans of each team may not have any fingernails left by the time this series is finished with.
The Thunder came back to win the game, and it was anything but easy.
This series breaks down rather simplistically. Oklahoma City will go as far as Kevin Durant takes them, as was evident on Sunday.
While it is fair to say that Kevin Durant shoulders the weight of the Thunder's chance of advancing, it is OKC's role players that will need to sufficiently contribute in order to give Durant the chance to take over and win games.
Now that they are used to playing without Russell Westbrook, the Thunder have found a reliable ball-handler in Reggie Jackson. With the Grizzlies having such a prolific frontcourt, the Thunder will need Kevin Martin to knock down shots and take the load off Durant.
Inside, however, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins are physical enough to body up against Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. At the very least, they will be able to grind them down and wear them out in what should be an extended series.
For the Grizzlies, Mike Conley drives this team. If he is consistently getting to the rim, game over. This creates ample opportunities to kick the ball out or dump it off to Randolph or Gasol who are proven scorers around the rim.
Back to Marc Gasol, who will create matchup nightmares for the Thunder.
The Spaniard is so dynamic because of his dual-threat capabilities. He can play with his back to the basket posted up or step out and knock down jump shots.
When Gasol steps out of the lane, it will draw Ibaka or Perkins out of the paint, leaving plenty of room for Mike Conley to do his thing.
Defensively, the Grizzlies should put Tony Allen, one of the best defenders in the league, on Kevin Durant. While he won't stop him—or come anywhere close for that matter—his main focus will be ball denial, especially late in games.
If the ball is out of Durant's hands late in close games, the Grizzlies should prevail. Their offensive complexity will be too much for the depleted Thunder to handle.
Prediction: Grizzlies in 6