Oh look, it’s another crazy Grizzlies/Thunder series! Whoda thunk it???
It’s not that hard to guess what the first “thing” will be on our list of seven this evening, now is it?
Before we get to that, however, I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came out to our watch party at Central BBQ. That was a whole lot of insane Grizzly fandom packed into a small area, and it was tons of fun.
Thing one: MAYBE THEY SHOULDN’T CALL THEM “FREE”, HUH?? Ok, 19/26 for 73% isn’t horrible…but it’s still not great, and the Grizzlies missed two late in regulation that almost cost them the game. There’s not a lot of philosophy, insight, or any other thought process that can be applied to free throws-ya just gotta make ‘em. And the Grizzlies have not been doing well at it lately. One other note-many thanks to Joey Crawford for icing KD during that tirade against the stats/scorer guy…led to a missed FT for Durant, and the Grizzlies win by one. Huh.
Thing two: The Reggie Jackson thing of game four, and the accompanying well-known theme of “just let the main guys go, don’t let some next-tier-down guy go nuts”. The Grizzlies did very well at that this game-they “let” Durant and Westbrook shoot 55 times combined (and they made only 20, and KD only went 3-6 from the line) and allowed only Caron Butler from the Thunder’s bench to make any significant impact. They chased well-known Grizzly assassin Derek Fisher into a 2-6 night, and Jackson had almost as many fouls (4) as he did points (6).
Thing three: Rebounds. Offensive ones. The Thunder had nineteen. 19. They missed a ton of shots, but rebounded over a third of their own misses. Time for my favorite word again…unconscionable. Rebounding is about effort and positioning of course, but when a team has such a “balanced attack” of offensive rebounds as did the Thunder this night, they must not be very afraid of the other team’s transition offense…and while the Grizzlies did outdo OKC 10-7 in fast break points, you just can’t blame the Thunder for sending guys to the offensive boards without fear of leakouts.
Thing four: Mike Miller. 6-11, 5-8 from three, and 4-4 from the line (!!). Throw in zero turnovers and three steals for good measure. That’s the guy the Grizzlies hired for spacing. And they didn’t know it at the time, but they hired him to hit two monumental threes at the beginning of OT.
Thing five: Russell Westbrook with the most colossally wasted triple-double of all time. 1-7 from three, 12-31 overall from the floor. Can’t deny the guy’s fearlessness, but this was yet another game where Westbrook led OKC in FGA’s, and the team lost. I can’t agree with those who say the Thunder are better without him, but he does defend Durant rather well.
Thing six: Poise and turnovers. The Grizzlies showed it, although the wheels did fall all the way off the wagon during a field goal drought of over seven minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters. Even keeping in mind the Grizzlies’ propensity for offensive implosions/meltdowns/discombobulations, this one was impressive in the worst way in that timidity spread through the team like wildfire. As for turnovers, however, the Grizzlies forced seventeen while only committing ten. That’s part of the formula for winning basketball.
Thing seven: BUT DANGIT MARC GASOL PASSING ON THAT SHOT AT THE END OF REGULATION IS NOT PART OF THE FORMULA FOR WINNING BASKETBALL.
Sorry Marc, had to get that off my chest.
It’s late. Very late. And the Grizzlies won what was this series’ fourth straight overtime game, an NBA record.
It just wouldn’t be the Grizzlies if it were easy, would it?