Memphis-OKC: Small markets, big game


OKLAHOMA CITY – They know how the outside world will view them, as the annoying little brother, the other guys.

The Lakers vs. Mavs will have Kobe vs. Dirk, a pair of individual virtuosos and offensive machines who can melt scoreboards with their point production, not to mention Phil Jackson vs. Mark Cuban, who’ve both been known to intentionally start fires.

The Bulls vs. Hawks will have the continued ascension – and possibly the official coronation – of Derrick Rose into the realm of the elite as the youngest MVP in history and youngest player ever to make the entire horde of TV analysts run out of adjectives.

The Heat vs. Celtics will, of course, have enough breathless conversation to suck the air right out of the room.

Then there’s Grizzlies vs. Thunder. Oh yeah, them. No. 4 vs. No. 8 in the Western Conference, a matchup between two of the smallest markets in the NBA who’ll be lucky if anyone even notices they’re playing.

That is, until the ball goes up. Don’t make the mistake of grabbing the remote and changing the channel.

“I hope that people appreciate teams that play hard and play well together,” said the Grizzlies’ Shane Battier. “We may not have a whole lot of marquee names. But both Oklahoma and our team play very well together, play hard, play the right way. If you’re a basketball fan you should enjoy this series.”

And the Grizzlies don’t believe their little fantasy ride has to end now after their upset of the No. 1 seeded Spurs. They know the Thunder will be more rested, more prepared and at home. The Grizzlies know that they’ve got to flush the celebration from their system quickly and be ready for a new challenge just 36 hours after walking out of their joyous home locker room.

“It’s a quick turnaround, for sure,” said Tony Allen. “But I believe we have the kind of guys on this team who know that this isn’t enough. We came into this season with a goal of making the playoffs and we did that. Now that we’re here, we believe we’re good enough to line up with anybody.”

Neither are the Thunder just happy to have won their first playoff series since moving to Oklahoma City.

“Knowing our guys the way I know them, they’re not satisfied,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “They’re not just satisfied with getting to the next round. We want to keep playing good basketball. We want to make every game consistent with a good effort and give ourselves a chance to win.”

After spending the first three years of his NBA career watching the playoffs from his sofa at home, Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley is ready for the next step.

“I’m overjoyed, but we’re not done,” Conley said. “We understand that there’s another tough team in front of us. They can score in bunches and score very quickly and now they’re a good defensive team with Kendrick Perkins down low. But if we play our game over the whole series, we’ll be fine.”

The Grizzlies even believe the quick turnaround could work to their advantage.

“They may have some rust from sitting around and we’re in a groove,” Battier said. “We’re playing well. Maybe we go out there and see if we can sneak one again in Game 1, like we did in San Antonio. We’re gonna be tired, no question. We’re probably not gonna know them as well as they know us. But we’ll take our shot. We’re playing well and we feel that we can compete with anyone.

“We were playing with house money going into the playoffs. We knew that. But this is a good team. We know that when we play our game, play together, we’re a very good team. Don’t let the seed fool you. We can compete with anybody in this league. And I think the Thunder feel the same way.”

It will be the rising All-Stars of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook vs. the bruising blue collar work of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

It won’t have the glamour of L.A. vs. Dallas, the blooming Rose of Chicago vs. Atlanta or the glitz and celebrity appeal of Miami vs. Boston.

But it would be a mistake to think of it as “just” Oklahoma City vs. Memphis.

Small markets, but big game.

63 Comments

  1. iswhatitis says:

    im a thunder fan im at almost every home game and i love what they bring to this city and when we played denver i hated denver but i cant do that with memphis yet all i can do is respect them but i do believe the thunder is the better team but memphis is hot right now no matter what other people think but what it comes down to now it who has the most heart and who wants it more

  2. deron says:

    Congrats to the Grizz, but it’s sad to see the end of an era in San Antonio.
    I actually think they have a chance against the Thunder, it should be a fun series. If the Thunder were further along in the playoff growth process, it would be an easy series for them. OKC in 6 or 7.

    The Grizzlies’ 12 straight losses before winning a playoff game is the longest streak since expansion began in 1949-1950.

    http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/04/growing-from-cubs-to-grizzlies-memphis.html

  3. moneyball says:

    I take the grizzlies in 6 unless the thunder can stop the two headed dragon of Zach Randolph and Mark Gasol. The biggest big man for the thunder in Durant and he is a small forward.
    Sorry OCK.

  4. KB24 says:

    i am not a fan of either team but this series is really interesting, i bet on Memphis to win in 5/6.. unless z boo will not play consistently and also if durant will be unstoppable.

  5. Lee says:

    z-bo for president!!! grizz DEMOLISHED okc but they’ll be back.. and memphis will be ready, this was my dark horse this season, and imagine if gay is healthy, grizz in 6

  6. L.A fan says:

    Memphis may even give the Lakers a game 7 next round. This is a young exciting team with all pieces ready.

  7. err yeah... says:

    all a sudden everyone are grizzly experts even though i bet at least half of the ppl that comment didnt watch the grizz in the regular season..

    • Hector says:

      HA i know i didnt im completly shocked on their performances sure during the regular season i remember them beatin big teams like celtics and lakers but for them to win against san antionio WOW and now shane battier decides to be good..

  8. Steve nash#1 says:

    not a grizz fan but that team is young and hungry NBA beware of the Grizz. Phoenix SUNs will be back next year

  9. TESS says:

    GO BLUE BEARS!!!!!!

  10. The truth... says:

    Jeez, Grizzlies, I….

    They dont even have RUDY GAY!?!??!?!!

  11. jimmyslim31 says:

    Everybody is counting the Grizzlies out and we love it. It’s like chalkboard material for the locker room, No one gave us a chance against the Spurs, the best team in the west. The Grizzlies won in 6 games and should have won in 5 if not for the 3pt shot by Neal at the buzzer. Eveybody sez the Spurs are washed up, but the Spurs will be back next year as strong as ever. Parker, Manu and Duncan may be the best 3some to play the game. Pop is one of the best coaches ever and Hollins and his Grizz just outplayed SA. So, go ahead and make your predicitons of OKC in 5,6 or 7. Grizz fans love to hear it. We’ll just keep on “Grinding” it out all the way to the WC finals! We look forward to TNT and OKC coming to the “Grind House” on Saturday!

    • Dubsouth says:

      Ditto on that! They will never give Memphis the respect they deserve. I would like everyone who’s hating on the Grizzlies look at there record against the teams in the west this season.

      • SeattleRebel says:

        You are SPOT-ON.

        Too many NBA fans, etc think it’s ALL about Lebron, Kobe, Pierce, Anthony…..players who play in either BIG markets and/or in cities where Championships have been the norm.

        NOTICE TO ALL NBA FANS & NON-NBA fans BOTH: MEMPHIS is THE REAL DEAL. Make no mistake about it. This team has the ability, the drive, the intellect, and, most of all, the players & Head Coach who could take this team, its fans, & Memphis as a whole…..to a place never before imagined: NBA CHAMPIONSHIP.

      • Nets fan....oh yea says:

        Wow. Best fans? People in Memphis don’t even go to the games unless they are winning. Hence one of the worst home attendance records in the league. Half of Memphis can’t even tell you who’s on the team they just say Z-bo is “AWESOME DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!”

  12. HJP says:

    Cheer the OKC Thunder to victory in the next four games.

  13. HJP says:

    Thunder rules, Grizzles drools in defeat.

    • SeattleRebel says:

      Former & very proud Memphian here.

      Don’t know what you’re smokin or not smokin”, dude, but TODAY the MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES willed all their might & muscle onto the Thunder & came away VICTORIOUS in Game 1.,,has a familiar theme to it, huh?

      Hmmmm, maybe you were commenting about all the bad Thunder & Rain, etc that’s been going on down South as of late.,,,,sure, U must have. Couldn’t have been referring to this past 2011 regular season. During which THE GRIZ took 3 of 4 games vs the Thunder. ALL TODAY did was build on that prior success & turn it into MORE of the SAME. AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME. ….4 GRIZ FANS & CITY OF MEMPHIS BOTH…..

      Bottom Line: THE MEMPHIS GRIZ put a THUNDEROUS HURT on OKC TODAY. Consequently, The THUNDER & NOT The GRIZ, WERE SENT HOME DROOLING LIKE BIG CRY BABIES!!!

  14. PJ says:

    Westbrook choked today. Big dissapointmet.

    • Grizzro says:

      Z-Bo is my hero! Marc best Gasol brother! The whole team is awesome!
      Go Grizzlies…bring it on home!

      • PJ says:

        Gotta give credit to Zach, he’s playing like a champ. Thunder need to wake up because they must have though this would be a walk in the park.

  15. mahkkz says:

    and they are doin it w/o their best offensive weapon in GAY

  16. James Scott says:

    I just think that OKC is the better team… People here are really forgetting the fact that the thunder are more athletic and they can score in bunches. The reason that Z-Bo and Marc Gasol went nuts against the spurs its because the spurs dont have any low post defender other than Duncan. The Thunder have a lot of low post defenders like Ibaka, Perkins, Muhammed and Collison that can put a body on the Grizz’s frontcourt… so i’m going with OKC in 5 or 6

    • jimmyslim31 says:

      With only 3 players scoring more than 5 points today, you might wanna reconsider your prediciton.

    • Jake says:

      Nobody can defend Z-BO. Mcdyess did everything humanly possibly to stop him in Game 6 of the first series, but nothing worked. Whenever he misses he grabs his own rebound and puts it back in.

  17. OKCFTW! says:

    I think that the OKC-MEM series is a series to watch… Im a solid OKC fan.. and I see Memphis as a Threat.. because of what Z-Bo is producing.. He’s a demon down there… I’ll take of course OKC in 6.. because i think the KD-Westbrook-Harden combination will make it difficult to the grizz to handle… I got a lot of respect for them though :) OKC AT 6

  18. NetsNetsNets says:

    It’s gonna be a good series but I seriously see Thunder winning in 5. Everybody is talking about the Grizz’s perimeter d with Allen and Battier but I think y’all are forgetting about Sefolosha who is gonna put the lockdown on the Grizz’s perimeter players. And the Thunder have plenty of big bodies who are young to throw at Randolph and Gasol. Not saying they’re gonna stop Z-bo cause they won’t but I just can’t see the Grizz handling the one-two punch of Westbrook and Durant. Gonna be a real good series though.

    • jimmyslim31 says:

      You may want to reconsider. Apparently you’re not that familiar with the memphis Grizzlies. The are now 4-1 against OKC this year. OKC must have more that Durant/Westbrook (who are very good) to get any further in the playoffs. The bench the Grizz put on the floor will make the difference.

      • Nets fan....oh yea says:

        Um I think I’m pretty familiar with the Grizz especially since I live right in the middle of Memphis and have seen the bench you’re talking about be very inconsistent. I give Memphis credit they play hard but I just can’t see them competing this way for another whole series. Because if last year’s playoff games for the Thunder didn’t say anything to you it’s that they don’t give up. So, honestly I don’t think you’re that familiar with the Thunder. Sure the grizz won the REGULAR season series. But this is the playoffs. And with Battier and Randolph both having pretty much just first round experience I don’t see them really staying fired up this entire series. The Thunder have something to prove. The Grizz are just trying to get people to recognize them.

  19. Lee says:

    i like this match-up, youth, desire and hunger will dictate the better team but i like the grizz chance advancing, there more relax going to this series and they’ve already over achieved and have noting more to prove.. but either way i like both teams advancing

  20. abu says:

    Here is why OKC will lose in this series, people are ignoring this guy SHANE BATTIER, if ron artest bullied durant, then imagine what will the kobe stopper do to him, when you take out durant you only got westbrook and harden that can produce points, but it won’t be enough

    • QuestionMark says:

      You forget how good Durant is, he can hit jumpers over anyone, Allen, Battier, or Randolph, yes Battier will effect his game, but Durant did still score 30+ in Game 1, also if Harden and Ibaka can score 10+ along with Westbrook and Durant scoring 20+ than OKC will have this series tied down.

  21. TREBLIG says:

    THIS IS THE TO TEAM I WANT TO SEE IN THE NBA FINALS AND WIN THE CROWN, GO THUNDER, GRIZZ

  22. choker says:

    griz and okc game is exciting!!! durant vs Z-Bo

    bunch of good players fight and to survive and go to next round

  23. jeff24 says:

    its gonna be a hell of a series..this okc kids are fun to watch and the tough grizz team are something to put an eye on…they can match up well on any team..they got bigs gasol zach and fast guards conley mayo tough defensive forwards shane and allen..they are also complete just like okc..

  24. kulangot says:

    My prediction Grizz will win this series. They have Shane Battier and Tony Allen who will give headache to Durant and Wrestbrook. If Durant and Wrestbook will not score atleast 25 pts each game they will not win this series.. Grizzlies are great team they can adjust in any type of games.They can play fast & slow games.. We know that thunder are young and fast but grizz have player who can match their quickness.. We know that Grizz is a defensive team unlike Thunder who focus on offensive. If grizz will slow the thunder they will win this series. Z bo will continue to dominate this series thunder will have difficult to match him. As we see what happen to Spurs even Duncan and Mcdyess can handle him.. Now who will guard him… Ibaka or perkins any of the two i bet they cant handle him.

  25. candy............ says:

    im not fan of grizz or thunder…but this 2 teams have something to prove in the nba……..grizz in game7!!

  26. Fastbreak says:

    Going to be an interesting front court battle. I can see OKC struggling against Grizzlies, Durant/Westbrook in particular. Going to be interesting series to say the least. I think behind Heat/Celtics this is the most interesting 2nd rounder. Mavs/LA is an obvious LA win. Bulls and Hawks might turn interesting but I’m expecting Hawks to be Hawks sooner or later and fade away.

    I’m going to go with the underdogs though, Grizzlies in 6-7.

  27. allaround baller says:

    Both are heroic now, the fans love them But it’s oklahoma advantage now. An experienced team like san antonio could slow down durant-westbrook energetic and fast game. Memphis is different case, they may try to fight oklahoma’s intensity. But memphis frontcourt will face the same prime age & forceful matchup, ibaka-perkin. Im sure their main key randolph cant be so useful as before.
    While durant keep battier-allen busy, it’s westbrook showtime. Memphis was impresive, I kinda believe they’ll doing better against dallas in 2nd round. But not oklahoma. It’ll be over in in 5/6

    • jimmyslim31 says:

      Memphis beat OKC 4 out of 5 times so far this season, including today. Your right about one thing, it will be over in 5-6 games. Advantage Grizz though.

      • allaround baller says:

        ok, Im worry now. Randolph turns to barkley or malone something like that. Perkins realy lost, 1-0 for gasol

    • Jake says:

      Yeah, Randolph has been virtually unguardable in these playoffs. The Spurs had no answer for him and so far it seems like the Thunder don’t either.

      • Brian says:

        Maybe Randolph shouldn’t get too big of a head with his comments. He got shut down pretty well in Game 2.

  28. kulera ko!!! says:

    wew this is gonna be an interesting series..an 8 seeded team vs the scoring champ kevin durant THUNDERS..
    grizzles will match OKC’s toughnes,they have randolf and gasol..and a defensive minded tony allen and shane battier…
    hope it will get to game 7…this series will be as much exciting as the other 4 sure….PEACE ALL………………….

  29. kulera ko!!! says:

    wew this is gonna be an interesting series..an 8 seeded team vs the scoring champ kevin durant THUNDERS..
    grizzles will match OKC’s toughnes,they have randolf and gasol..and a defensive minded tony allen and shane battier…
    hope it will get to game 7…this series will be as much exciting as the other 4 sure….

    • QuestionMark says:

      Im just excited on seeing LAL-DAL Series and OKC-MEM Series, Dallas vs L.A is going to be a very exciting series, but I think Dallas has the edge because they have a stronger bench, from that I mean Barea, Terry, Haywood, and Peja and also the starting lineup is as solid as L.A lineup, Kidd vs Fisher: Kidd is a better playmaker so he has the advantage, Kobe vs Terry: Terry is good, but Kobe is an all-time great, Marion vs Artest: both defensive SFs, Dirk vs Gasol: Best matchup by far in the Series, but Dirk has the advantage since he can stretch the D to the 3pt line, Chandler vs Bynum: Chandler has the edge because he is more athletic than Bynum and it also Chandler has more size than Okafor so the question is can Bynum grab 10+ rebs when Chandler and Haywood are guarding him?.

  30. The Rocker says:

    Go Atlanta!

  31. sandile says:

    and of these two teams Okc hav a bigger heart. Mephis talks about playing more nd Okc talks about the championship. Thats the difference btn the two teams.

  32. joey says:

    both teams played very well during the playoffs but the next round would be a chest match who wants it more? who has the bigger heart to get to the next level..

  33. Jake says:

    I wouldn’t underestimate the Grizzlies. Watching them play against San Antonio, they looked as good as any team in the league.

  34. Gary says:

    I’m pretty sure Oklahoma will win this series because Grizzilies are on a hot streak that will burn out. Also Rose will get the MVP and people will be shocked when Atlanta knocks the Bulls out the playoffs.

    • unknown says:

      Every time I go to a oklahoma city involved theme I see you there saying the same thing.You say something like”No team stand a chance against the thunder, derrick rose is gonna get the mvp even if he is not worthy of it and chicago is gonna lose against orlando or atlanta….”.I have been very undecided between boston and miami, the reality is so difficult.But I’m 100 percent sure chicago is gonna beat atlanta, because atlanta is so limited in offense event.Chicago is limited as well sometimes and most of it because some players aren’t doing their work, but they got pretty good defense except boozer who doesn’t what in hell is that word.But believe me you are underestimate the bulls.Just watch.I’m no team fan but if have to decide for the mvp in the playoffs between rose or durant.I would say zach randolph.Memphis is a team to really be afraid of.

      • Gary says:

        Never said that. Just think the Thunder are a better team and Grizzlies will lose tempo. Atlanta has more offensive guys than the Bulls but Bulls defense will crack and the in an offensive game Atlanta wins in my opinion.

      • unknown says:

        What did tell you.Well you didn’t say thunder are unbeatable, but you say the thunder has the upper hand against many team.That is false.Having two superstar doesn’t mean you have the advantage, have to look every match up.I’m surprised that Durant say Z-Bo is the best power forward in the league.Zach just took the crown from Tim Duncan the first day of the playoff.But I’m not surprised about Memphis winning, again.It seem to me Memphis controlled the tempo very well, thunder try to push it but Memphis played very well defensively and good shooting of course.And no, Gay is not their best offensive weapon.People are still overestimating Gay.I believe Chicago will have a lot of motivation with the coach and mvp award.They will begin game 1 with a fast start at half time, something they haven’t done in the past series, because pacers have played so brutally physical.I don’t see any chance of Atlanta taking the first game.

      • Brian says:

        I have to agree with unknown on this one. Memphis is never a team to take lightly. You don’t run-and-gun against them. As Game 2 proved, you want to beat the Grizzlies, you’re going to have to bang with them. This is coming from a hardcore OKC fan. I love seeing two small market teams slugging it out. I’m looking forward to a potential 7-game series.

    • jimmyslim31 says:

      The Grizzlies are not on a hot streak. They are playing as well as any team in the west. OKC found that out today. Keep in mind, the Grizzlies are playing without one of their best players in Rudy Gay. Memphis has led the league in points in the paint and steals for two staight seasons. They’re not hot, they’re just geling at the right time and they’re on a mission.

      • LakersWillWin says:

        They also led the league in forced turnovers! Grizzlies are no joke.
        Gasol Vs Gasol West Finals.

      • QuestionMark says:

        Im rooting for OKC to win it all, but Memphis just outplayed them in Game 1, if Westbrook plays like he did in Game 1 then OKC will lose, also OKC has the advantage in clutch situations thanks to Durant, Randolph is amazingly good, but when it comes to clutch there is no one better than Durant, well obviously Kobe is, but that is different. Durant has shown he can knock down jumpshots over anyone, whether it is Tony Allen or Randolph. If Perkins or Ibaka does not find a way to stop Randolph or Gasol, OKC is done, luckily Rudy Gay isn’t playing or else I think OKC would be knocked out.

        OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER!!!!

    • Gary says:

      @ unknown, again all I said is Thunder are the better team. Has nothing to do with stars just the fact that they are the number four seed right? Grizzlies have been playing great ball and I respect them but I’m not going to go wild and say they are better than Oklahoma, because they’re not. If they knock out Oklahoma then i’ll say “yeah they proved they were better”.