Tuesday's NBA playoff action features one home team looking to take command of its series and another looking to get even.
The Oklahoma City Thunder enter Game 2 bent on proving their Game 1 win over the Memphis Grizzlies wasn't a fluke. Kevin Durant will once again aim to impose his will and take over the game.
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have a different idea, as they will try to ensure Memphis finishes the game strong this time.
In the East, the home team is just trying to survive and earn a 1-1 split before the scene shifts to Indianapolis.The New York Knicks were overmatched and outplayed by the Indiana Pacers, and Frank Vogel's squad seeks to take even greater control of the series in Game 2.
Who will come out on top in each skirmish? Let's break it down.
Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks
Indiana's front line dominated the paint on both ends of the floor in Game 1, and it will try to do so again on Tuesday.
David West, Paul George and Roy Hibbert combined for 53 points, as New York's trio of Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin struggled to contain them down low.
The Pacers' work on the defensive side was the bigger story. They effectively kept Chandler and Martin off the offensive glass, and whenever Melo drove the lane, there were help defenders impeding his path. The Knicks superstar finished a dreadful 10-of-28 from the field.
New York needs to alter its game plan if the team wants to avoid yet another letdown.
I would be surprised if the Knicks resorted to isolation as much as they did in Game 1. Actually, I don't think it's possible to run isolation any more than they did.
The point is, Anthony and J.R. Smith's repeated attempts at hero-ball severely hindered the club's chance of winning. Rather than resort to tightly-contested shots and field-goal attempts in the face of double-teams, they need to move the ball more and utilize their teammates.
The few times New York did use fundamentals like pick-and-rolls early in the offense, good things happened. Bleacher Report Knicks columnist and ESPN TrueHoop writer Jared Dubin explains that early post feeds and pick-and-rolls create mismatches and less-congested scenarios for Melo:
By attacking George quickly out of the post, he ensures that the help defense will have to come earlier or not at all, which will create better looks for both Melo and his teammates. By turning the corner off a ball screen early in the shot clock before the defense is set, he can find more openings than if he waits and lets the Pacers play him to a certain spot on the court.
New York should implement a lot more of that early action and less deliberate one-on-one attempts that allow Indiana to set up its help defense.
The Pacers still have the matchup advantages in the paint, and the size of Hibbert, West and Tyler Hansbrough will continue to pose problems for them.
The Pacers will give it a good effort, but the Knicks will close the seven-point gap they yielded in Game 1 and win with more efficiency on the offensive end.
Prediction: Knicks 99, Pacers 97
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder
The Memphis Grizzlies played just about as well as a visiting squad could in a Game 1 scenario. And somehow, they lost.
A late turnover and a clutch shot allowed the Oklahoma City Thunder to "steal" the game at home and take a 1-0 series lead. Kevin Durant's 35 points and late heroics stole the show.
Will he turn in another superstar performance in Game 2?
Probably, but it won't be the deciding factor in the game. The key isn't necessarily stopping Durant from scoring; it's limiting his options and rotating effectively to his teammates.
Kevin Martin thrived in his sidekick role in Game 1, finding a variety of spot-ups, slashes and mid-range opportunities to accumulate 25 points. On several occasions, Memphis simply gave him too much space in isolation, and he exploited that advantage.
The Grizzlies should force Reggie Jackson, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka (when he's away from the hoop) to beat them. Allowing Durant and Martin to combine for 60 again is just not an option.
The other factor that could dictate Game 2 will be the play of Memphis point guard Mike Conley. In Game 1, he hoisted 15 shots, many of which were ill-advised floaters or off-balance scoops in traffic. He finished 5-of-15 for 13 points.
Conley will be more discerning Tuesday, opting for fewer shots and more dishes. He served just three assists in Game 1, and he knows he must double or triple that output if his squad wants to win four games in this series.
He should be in the mindset to facilitate and leave more of the scoring up to Randolph, Gasol and Tayshaun Prince.
Memphis will keep the game at a similar pace to what we saw in Game 1, but make those adjustments to deny Martin and take higher-percentage attempts.
Prediction: Grizzlies 94, Thunder 86
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