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Oklahoma City Thunder: 10 Bold Predictions for the Memphis Grizzlies Series

Tyler TinsleyContributor IIIApril 30, 2011

Oklahoma City Thunder: 10 Bold Predictions for the Memphis Grizzlies Series

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    Can Kevin Durant lead the Thunder to their first Western Conference Finals appearance?
    Can Kevin Durant lead the Thunder to their first Western Conference Finals appearance?Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Who would have seen this coming?  The Memphis Grizzlies handily defeated the powerhouse San Antonio Spurs in six games to earn their first ever trip to the Western Conference semifinals.  Things won’t get any easier from here, though. 

    Awaiting them are the young-gun Oklahoma City Thunder, led by superstar Kevin Durant and his partner-in-crime, Russell Westbrook.  The Thunder defeated the "Carmelo-less" Denver Nuggets in five games after a Game 5 comeback led by an incredible performance by the "Durantula."

    This series will feature two athletically superior teams led by young stars.  Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City are the new "it" team, while Memphis might very well be a close number two.  Both are young, fast and on the rise with regards to league reputation.    

    Here are 10 bold predictions for the Western Conference semifinal showdown between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies. 

10. Memphis Will Steal a Game in Oklahoma City

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 27:  Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies gestures to the crowd near the end of regulation against the San Antionio Spurs in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2011 at AT&T
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    While Oklahoma City nearly dominated the Denver Nuggets in their first round matchup, one must remember that they are still young and relatively inexperienced in the playoffs.  One dominating series does not mean they are going to cruise to the NBA finals. 

    Oklahoma City will be caught off guard by a pumped-up Memphis team that is coming off of a huge upset of the San Antonio Spurs.  Memphis will steal Game 1 or 2 in Oklahoma City, sending the series back to Memphis tied at 1-1.  

9. Oklahoma City Will Come Back and Steal a Game in Memphis

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 27: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts to being fouled against the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2011 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma Ci
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    After stealing a game in OKC, Memphis will come back to the FedEx Forum, overconfident. 

    While both games will be close, Kevin Durant will have an epic performance in Game 3 or 4 and lead the Thunder to victory, sending the series back to OKC for Game 5.  

    Both teams will hold serve on their home court in Games 5 and 6, setting up an exciting Game 7.  

8. Kevin Durant Will Go for 50 in a Game

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 27: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dunks the ball against the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2011 at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Okla
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Kevin Durant will have a Michael Jordan/Kobe Bryant-like performance and go off for 50 against the young and unproven Grizzlies. 

    KD solidified his spot as one of the league’s premier players this season and will further implement his historic season by going off in one of the games.  Furthermore, KD will be fueled by a hostile environment and go off in Memphis.  

    While admittedly a reach, the Thunder rely on KD for a big chunk of their scoring so a breakout performance is not out of the question.  Durant is the league's leading scorer for a reason and it will show.  

7. Kendrick Perkins/Serge Ibaka Will Butt Heads with Zach Randolph/Marc Gasol

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 25:  Kendrick Perkins #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder walks upcourt against the Denver Nuggets late in the fourth quarter in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at the Pepsi Cente
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    New "bad boy" in town Kendrick Perkins and Serge "Iblocka" will rough it up with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. 

    Both duos are very athletic and very intense down low.  All four will be very fired up about being the big guys for their respective squads and will inevitably show their toughness by getting into a "fight" in one of the games.

    Let's hope that no suspensions are dished out (take a look at the Atlanta-Orlando fiasco involving Zaza Pachulia and J-Rich).

6. Marc Gasol Will Out-Perform Kendrick Perkins

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 27:  Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts to a call during a game against the San Antionio Spurs in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2011 at AT&T Center in San Antoni
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Much has been made about how the acquisition of K Perk has made the Oklahoma City Thunder a tougher, more dangerous squad.  That being said, he does not make much of a contribution (understatement) on the offensive end of the floor. 

    Marc Gasol will make easy work of the usually tough defensive stopper, and go lights out during this series.  The younger Gasol had a dominant performance in the San Antonio series and will continue his tear against OKC.   

5. Serge Ibaka Will Out-Perform Zach Randolph and Have an "I-Blocka Party"

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20:  Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder blocks a shot by Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during  Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2010 at Staples Center in L
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Zach Randolph had a monster year for Memphis this season, averaging 20.1 PPG and 12.2 rebounds.  He carried Memphis with his incredible performance in Game 6 against San Antonio, sending them to the Western Conference semifinals. 

    Serge Ibaka is currently leading the playoffs in blocks per game at 4.8 and is fourth in rebounds at 11.  While still very young, Serge has established himself as one of the league's best defenders and top shot blockers.  He has also improved his jump shot from as far out as 15 ft.   

    While Randolph is a beast on the offensive end of the floor, Serge will contain him and continue his block spree.  People forget that in three out of four match-ups this season, Randolph was guarded by lackluster defender Jeff Green.     

4. Russell Westbrook Will Have His Way with Mike Conley

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 27: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder passes the ball against Arron Afflalo #6 of the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2011 at the Ford Cent
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Much was made of Russell Westbrook’s one-man disaster in Game 4 against Denver.  Westbrook went 12-30 and took two erratic threes toward the end of the game that should have probably been handed off to Kevin Durant.  Westbrook learned his lesson though, and dished the ball off much more in Game 5 (despite struggling from the field).  

    Westbrook will have his way in this series and dominate an athletically-inferior Mike Conley.  Conley is no match for a superstar in the making in Westbrook, and it will show.  This will be a crucial matchup in this series.

3. James Harden Will Come Up Huge for the Thunder

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    DENVER, CO - APRIL 25:  James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder takes a shot over Al Harrington #7 of the Denver Nuggets in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, C
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The OKC sixth man will have a huge impact in this series, showing off his underrated skills as a shooter.  Harden will likely be starting for the Thunder as a two-guard next year and will show why in this series. 

    Harden is relatively still unknown in the league but will have several 15-point games that lead the Thunder to victory.    

2. This Series Will Go to 7 Games

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    MEMPHIS, TN - APRIL 29:  Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on April 29, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The Thunder and Grizzlies will have a matchup for the ages that goes down to a final Game 7 in Oklahoma City.  Both teams match up very well in age and athleticism and it will show with a tightly-fought battle. 

    Only one team can win though…

1. Oklahoma City Will Win an Epic Game 7

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - APRIL 27: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks to the bench after hitting a key three-point shot against the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2011
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The game will come down to the end of the fourth quarter, but Kevin Durant will lead Oklahoma City onto the Western Conference finals.  Despite a 3-1 record against Oklahoma City during the regular season, Memphis will be unable to fight off the superstar tandem of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.  Oklahoma City's two superstars will be too much for the Grizzlies to handle.  

    Oklahoma City will face off against the Lakers or Mavericks in what is sure to be an exciting Western Conference finals.       

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