After a long, grueling 82 game regular season the Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23) faced the Memphis Grizzlies in game 1 of their playoff run. And the Thunder won game 1 with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook leading the way.
Winning game 1 was very important for the Thunder. Going down a game, especially a home game, would have put the Thunder in a hole, while not impossible to climb out of, that would have stretched out this series to more games than is ideal. The thunder want to wrap this series up in as few games as possible to stay fresh for their next opponent.
Not that the Thunder are looking ahead, but they don’t want to give any games away. Now that they are in the playoffs, their focus is heightened. Every single game is extremely important. They didn’t win the first round in one game, but with one win the Thunder greatly improved their chances of advancing to the second round.
The Thunder beat the Grizzlies 100-86 on Saturday night with Durant scoring 33 points. Westbrook chipped in with 23 points and the Thunder left no question marks on this game by thoroughly handing the Grizzlies a loss.
Tonight the Thunder will play game 2 against the Grizzlies and both teams will have the same starting lineups they had in game 1. The Thunder are hosting this game as well and with a win they can almost assure that they will win the series. It will then become a matter of how many games it will take to move past the Grizzlies and into the second round.
The Grizzlies are not a team that anyone wants to play more than is absolutely necessary. They have two talented, strong big men in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph that like to get physical in the paint. Matching up against those two players over a long series can get tiresome so it’s important that the Thunder keep this series short. They will need their health and energy for the following rounds in the playoffs.
Tonight’s game is very important to the Thunder winning this series and to their overall playoff goals. Memphis is a good team even though they are the seventh seed, and beating them 4 times won’t come easy. But the Thunder have the regular season MVP(yet to be awarded, but in all likelihood he won it) in Durant and his talented team mates which should make this a fun series, but it will be hard fought and the winner will know they earned it.