Memphis Grizzlies vs. OKC Thunder: Matchups That Will Determine Game 2
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There are several key matchups that will determine the outcome of Game 2 between the Grizzlies and Thunder in the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Thunder currently lead the series 1-0 after Sunday's 93-91 win off of Kevin Durant's last-second shot to win the game.
Durant is going to produce, so the Grizzlies will have to put pressure on the four players around him.
As the series transition's to its second game, here are the biggest matchups to look for.
PF Zach Randolph, Grizzlies vs. PF Serge Ibaka, Thunder
In Game 1, Randolph put up a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. However, he was unable to keep Ibaka from doing what he does best, block shots. Ibaka had three blocks in the series first game.
This post matchup is huge because both players are elite-level forwards that can dominate the paint. If Randolph can keep "Iblocka" from blocking shots by sealing him effectively down low, that will open up more scoring opportunities for the Grizzlies.
However, if Ibaka can continue to dominate the paint with his shot blocking and his deadly accuracy from mid-range, that could force the Grizzlies to work too hard to get points in the paint, which is their bread and butter.
PG Mike Conley, Grizzlies vs. PG Reggie Jackson, Thunder
Up to this point in the playoffs, Russell Westbrook's absence has had little effect on the Thunder. They advanced past a feisty Houston Rockets squad in the first round and took care of Game 1 on their home floor against the Grizzlies.
While Durant's performance has a lot to do with making up Westbrook's production, it also has to do with the fact that no point guard has yet to really test Reggie Jackson, Westbrook's replacement.
In Game 1 of this series, Conley was held to just 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting and three assists.
Jackson wasn't much better with 12 points and two assists, but he did it on 4-of-8 shooting. Plus, when you have Durant playing the way he is right now, all Jackson has really had to do is just maintain the flow of the game.
If the Grizzlies want to find an advantage in the conference semifinals, the matchup between Conley and Jackson is it. Conley has five years of experience to Jackon's one.
Conley is a better player than Jackson in almost every aspect of the game. If he can takeover at the point guard position, that can force Durant to take on even more of a role on offense, which may spread him too thin.
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