Thunder Blues: 5 Reasons Why Oklahoma City Wants To Avoid Memphis Next Round
The Memphis Grizzlies came out of nowhere this season to make the NBA playoffs as an eighth seed. While the first round is far from over, the Grizzlies have already proven to be a tough out for the Spurs after a Game 1 upset in San Antonio. The series now shifts back to Memphis, where the Griz have a chance to take the upper hand in the Western Conference's 1-8 matchup.
Oklahoma City has taken a 2-0 series advantage, with relative ease, over a "Carmeloless" Nuggets team. While Game 1 proved to be a struggle with what ended up being the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook show, Game 2 showed why some are already calling the Thunder the favorites out West. Everyone was involved early and often in what ended up being a blowout for OKC.
While one might assume the Thunder would rather play the eighth seed than the first, this actually turns out not to be the case this year. This Grizzlies team gave the Thunder fits during the regular season and would prove to be a very difficult out for the equally talented group of youngsters.
Here are five reasons why the OKC Thunder would rather face the San Antonio Spurs than the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Thunder are the league's second youngest team to the Minnesota Timberwolves, which means they have the youth and energy to keep up with anyone. With that being said, San Antonio and Memphis prove to be very different with regards to age and experience.
While the Spurs may have the edge with regards to experience, Memphis holds the edge in youth and energy. Memphis gave the Thunder fits during the regular season with their ability to "run and gun" all game. This could prove to be a huge test for a young, inexperienced playoff team in the Thunder. The Spurs do have proven veteran leadership that is critical in playoffs success but are also an aging, injury plagued team that is not as fast or explosive as the Thunder.
The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the few teams that can match up athletically with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Between Tony Allen, OJ Mayo and Zach Randolph, Memphis has the tools to slow down perhaps the league's most athletic point guard (outside of Derrick Rose) in Russell Westbrook and the league's best scorer in Kevin Durant. San Antonio is simply too old and fragile to keep up with the speed and athletic ability of the league's second youngest team.
Besides a season-ending shoulder injury to forward Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies have been able to remain healthy for most of the season. The same cannot be said for the injury-plagued Spurs. As usual with aging teams, injuries to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and, most recently, Manu Ginobili have all hurt San Antonio during the regular season and are now having an effect on them during the playoffs as seen with a Game 1 upset.
A healthy Memphis team would prove a more formidable challenge to the Northwest Division champs.
Something about the Oklahoma City Thunder brings out the best in Tony Allen. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy played some of his best basketball against them during the regular season and would undoubtedly have the same impact during the playoffs.
His stingy defense threw off both Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook as both struggled against the Grizzlies. Allen, most known for his tight defense, also had some of his best offense numbers of the season against the Thunder.
Regular Season Series
Memphis owns a 3-1 series edge against the Thunder during the regular season, one of the few teams to have such success against the young guns from the Southern Plains. This is without mentioning that all of their victories were short-handed. This could play into the psyche of the Thunder as it seemed to during the regular season.