Grizzlies vs. Thunder: Game 2 Preview, Schedule and Predictions

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Grizzlies vs. Thunder: Game 2 Preview, Schedule and Predictions
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After the Oklahoma City Thunder's exhilarating Game 1 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, hoops fans can't wait to see what the rest of the series has in store.

Kevin Durant's clutch jumper with 11.1 seconds remaining stole the game from Lionel Hollins' club, which came into Chesapeake Arena and gave OKC a scare.

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol each notched double-doubles, and Memphis led early and often, but it wasn't enough to overcome Durant's 35 points and late heroics.

While Durant proved he can carry the Thunder past good teams, it's going to be difficult for him to duplicate the result in Game 2, as the Grizzlies will undoubtedly tighten the screws defensively.

 

Game 2 Time: Tuesday, May 7, 9:30 p.m. ET

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Series Record: 1-0 Thunder

TV: TNT

 

Game 2 Key Storyline: Will Grizzlies Adjust and Slow Down Kevin Durant?

The Memphis Grizzlies executed a solid game plan and assembled a great team effort in Game 1, but they were trumped by Durant's 35 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.

Using its size, physicality and slow pace, Memphis was able to create the kind of tempo conducive to its success. However, Durant continually found the angles and glimpses of daylight necessary to knock down shots.

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He did almost all of his damage from mid-range, and that's a tough area for defenses to defend, especially against a 6'9" point forward.

Fortunately for Grizzlies fans, Lionel Hollins leads the NBA's top-ranked defensive unit of 2012-13, and it is sure to throw some new looks at Durant.

 

Series Star So Far: Kevin Durant

With only one game in the books in this series, Durant is the early front-runner for series MVP.

I'm not as impressed by the 35 points or the game-winning shot. What's more striking is that he shot 50 percent despite a hefty amount of attempts (26) and dealt six assists throughout the game.

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After five games without his sidekick Russell Westbrook, he's really grown into his point forward role and relished the challenge of carrying the Thunder through the postseason.

There are only a select few players who could single-handedly lead their teams to the NBA Finals, and Durant is one of them.

Can he duplicate this kind of performance for the rest of the series? That's tough to ask of anyone.

 

Projected Starting Lineups

Oklahoma City: Reggie Jackson, PG; Thabo SefoloshaSG; Kevin Durant, SF; Serge Ibaka, PF; Kendrick Perkins, C

Memphis: Mike Conley, PG; Tony Allen, SG; Tayshaun Prince, SF; Zach Randolph, PF; Marc Gasol, C

 

Thunder Injury Report (via CBSSports.com)

Russell Westbrook (knee), out for season

 

Grizzlies Injury Report

No injuries reported

 

Thunder Will Win If...

Durant makes good decisions and his teammates knock down open shots.

After his Game 1 barrage, Memphis will surely make a point to get the ball out of his hands and force his teammates to beat them.

When the Grizzlies double-team and get physical with Durant, he must make the right read, whether it's a pull-up, kick-out or dish to the interior.

At that point, it's up to his comrades to keep the offense running smoothly and finish plays. There are several capable scoring weapons, including Reggie Jackson and Kevin Martin, and they'll be called upon to execute.

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In addition, spot-up shooters such as Thabo Sefolosha and Derek Fisher must bring their best stuff. Look for them to combine for 10 to 12 field-goal attempts again.

Defensively, the focus is on containing Mike Conley and the twin towers. OKC must respect Randolph and Gasol's jumpers while limiting the penetration of Conley.

 

Grizzlies Will Win If...

Conley gets back on track and they limit Durant's damage.

In Game 1, floor general Conley shot 5-of-15 from the floor and dished just three assists. He did a great job of getting into the paint, and then made several questionable decisions once he got there (most notably, taking difficult shots).

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It should be his personal goal to not settle for wild, contested shots in the lane, but rather facilitate and get some of the role players more involved.

The Grizzlies can earn a split in the series if they make life difficult for Durant and then rotate efficiently when he gives the ball up.

NBA analyst JR Jackson on The One Thing to watch for in Game 2.

If they can keep him under 30 points and five assists, they'll be in great shape.

 

Prediction

When push comes to shove (literally), Memphis thrives when playing physical.

How will Game 2 play out?

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And that's exactly what it will do when Game 2 tips off Tuesday. Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince will do their best to harass Durant, while Randolph and Gasol lock down the paint.

The Grizzlies presented a balanced attack in Game 1, but they will bring a better version of that attack in Game 2.

Why? Because Conley and Randolph will bounce back from poor shooting nights, and Jerryd Bayless will look to do more damage in transition than he did Sunday.

It will be tough for Durant and Martin to combine for 60 points again, and as a result, Memphis can win the game in the high 80s or low 90s, even if OKC's supporting cast steps up.

Prediction: Grizzlies 94, Thunder 86

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