NBA playoffs preview: Thunder vs. Grizzlies

A first look at the Western Conference semifinal matchup between Oklahoma City and Memphis.

May 04, 2013|By Ben Bolch
  • Zach Randolph gestures toward the Clippers bench after getting ejected during the Memphis Grizzlies' 118-105 victory over L.A. in Game 6 of the NBA playoffs.
Zach Randolph gestures toward the Clippers bench after getting ejected… (Joe Robbins / Getty Images )

Western Conference semifinals

No. 1 Thunder vs. No. 5 Grizzlies

Season series: Grizzlies, 2-1.

Key stat: Memphis power forward Zach Randolph averaged 24.8 points over the Grizzlies' final four games of their first-round series victory over the Clippers.

Outlook: Memphis was a tough matchup for Oklahoma City even before Thunder guard Russell Westbrook suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for the rest of the playoffs. The Grizzlies' strength is in the post, where Randolph and center Marc Gasol pounded their young and athletic counterparts in the first round and are certainly eager to try to do the same to Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. While Kevin Durant gives the Thunder a supreme talent that the Grizzlies cannot match, the team's secondary options are no longer nearly as imposing without Westbrook. Kevin Martin and Ibaka are capable of occasional scoring bursts but probably not the sustained offensive output that Oklahoma City will need to win the series. The Thunder must also contend with Memphis guards Mike Conley and Tony Allen, whose toughness helped propel the Grizzlies into the conference semifinals for the second time in three years.

Prediction: Bring the gauze pads and bandages for a physically grueling series that will leave the Thunder's ego in need of a tourniquet. Grizzlies in seven.

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