Can Thunder, Grizzlies top that?

OKLAHOMA CITY – Every player in the Thunder locker room is weary.

The Lakers and Spurs are out.

Every last man on the Grizzlies roster is exhausted.

The Magic and Knicks are gone.

Go ahead. Try to tell us what’s going to happen next.

Conventional wisdom, not to mention statistics provided by Elias Sports Bureau, says Oklahoma City is now in control. In series tied at 2-2, the team that won Game 4 prevailed 73.9 percent of the time in the past.

But what does that past have to do with the Thunder blowing a 16-point lead in the third quarter of Game 3 and losing to the Grizzlies in overtime? What does the past have to do with the Grizzlies blowing an 18-point lead in the first half and coming back from being 10 points down with five minutes left in regulation of Game 4? What does the past have anything to do with all of the insanity that happened through three mind-bending overtimes?

“I’ve kind of always felt like momentum isn’t a real thing. It’s not a tangible thing,” Thunder forward Nick Collison said. “I think the way this series has gone, you just have to come out and play each game.

“We’ve played great and we’ve played terrible in this series at different times. So we know that we’re capable of winning and we’re capable of dropping a game. Our mindset is we have to be ready to play in Game 5. I’m sure theirs is the same way. The stuff that happened in the past isn’t going to matter.”

If this is a so-called chess match, then the grand masters on the benches are out of moves. Lionel Hollins went small with his Grizzlies. Scott Brooks went small with his Thunder. Hollins went big. Brooks went big. In Game 4, they went until just short of 1 a.m. in what practically became an all-night pick-up game.

“It’s a dogfight of a series,” Hollins said. “Nobody said this series is going to be easy (with either team winning) 4-1 or 4-2. We’re playing with a lot of heart and it showed in the last two games.

“It’s just the will to keep competing. You’re down 10 with five minutes to go and you just keep competing. You’re dead in the water after being down early and you keep fighting. That’s what the playoffs have always been about. Both teams have demonstrated that.”

The Grizzlies have demonstrated again and again in the playoffs that they were not overwhelmed or intimidated by any situation. They went into San Antonio and stunned the No. 1-seeded Spurs to open the playoffs and they rolled into Oklahoma City and knocked off the Thunder in Game 1.

When Gary Neal hit his buzzer-beating shot to take the Grizzlies down in Game 5 of the first round, many thought it was the blow that would stagger upstart Memphis and end the Cinderella story. Many were wrong.

If it’s history you’re looking to dig up, consider that the last three teams in the NBA playoffs to win a triple-overtime game eventually lost the series.

Who expected the Thunder to get up off the floor after the Grizzlies landed that early haymaker on Monday night and got them down by 18? Who expected the Thunder to ultimately win the battle in the paint 56-50 after the Grizzlies pounded them 20-6 in the first quarter?

Who figured the Grizzlies’ frontcourt combination of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol would become the first 20-point, 20-rebound teammates in consecutive playoff games since Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld in 1979? Who figured Mike Conley’s 3-pointer at the end of regulation would only last five minutes as the wildest shot in Game 4 until Greivis Vasquez worked his magic?

“Anyone who knows what’s going to happen in this series, they’re full of it,” said the Grizzlies’ Shane Battier. “Because they don’t.”

Not with all that’s happened. Not with all that’s left.

Is this as wild, indescribable and inexplicable as it can get?

As Conley said the other night when somebody asked him if that was the biggest shot he’d ever made: “So far.”

67 Comments

  1. max says:

    Great blog. I’m just visiting & can believe my eyes (or comments). We’ve had a tough playoff run (.445 winning percentage) (side note: NOT winning moey) — Anyhoo, we still believe we can turn this thing around, but then again we thought the Celtics (down 3 – 1) could too. Ok, if my opinion is worth stripper spit, we’re taking OKC +1.5 … Good Night Everybody! Love (Always Open – Everyone Welcome) – Max Steingrout (aka: TheChickenhawk http://www.thechickenhawk.com/blog1/?p=10725)

  2. Memphis Bandwagon!!!! says:

    Imagine if Memphis had Rudy Gay playing!!!!
    What a series this would be!!!!

  3. Ismaeel says:

    As much as I love the Thunder, I just don’t think they will beat the Grizzlies. Obviously, I’m not even 50% sure but it’s just my opinion that the Grizzlies are a tougher team and play better defense. So I’m thinking Grizzlies in 7.

  4. Chrissy says:

    I am quite proud of these Memphis Grizzlies!! Even if only half the fouls Ibaka and Perkins commit were called this would not be such an even series….Despite all of Durant’s flops and flails, at least 25% of the time not even being touched, gift wrapped Free Throws….Westbrook has turned in Allen Iverson type performances over and over again….The scoring is there, but the defense Tony Allen has put on Durant has caused Westbrook to just jack up even more wild shots…Let me say this Mav fans, you better hope the Thunder win this series….Cuz the Griz have your number =)

    • OKCKD35 says:

      really do you even watch the games? what about game 3 when we were up by a bunch and your team had 23 more free throw attempts not to mention 12 in the overtime, what is really going on is Zach Randolph is a dirty player who gets nothing called on him at home (see 3 people hit in the face and only 1 foul throughout regulation) OKC has been called for 139 fouls for an average of 27.8 per game. Memphis has been calld for 113 for an average of 22.6 per game, now tell me again who has gotten the whistle all series? OKC has had at least 25 fouls every game, the only game memphis had more than 25 was the triple overtime game, get your facts straight. you are losing because of Zach Randolph, as much as he bumps and pushes and lowers his shoulder, he whines like a baby when people do it back, he goes to the bench and puts on his sweats (game 3) or intentionally gets 3 fouls in a one minute 20 seconds (see game 5) to get sent to the bench. he cannot shoot the ball on collison or Perkins, he had a good game 1 and has been shut down from the field since, game 1 we looked surprised by all the contact, the rest of the games we have given it back!

    • Brian says:

      Not to mention the “weak” Tech call on Ibaka for reacting to what was actually a bad call. It’s like Denver whining about the officiating, but gets away Tech free when Nene used an armbar to throw Perkins to the court in Game 4. There have been bad calls and no calls both ways in almost every playoff series.

  5. Cuban says:

    Both of these teams will lose to the Mavs anyway.

  6. OKC audience says:

    Thunder could win this game easily if only Westbrook is playing smart. Westbrook is not sharing the ball most of the time. He thinks that he is the first option even though KD is there. During the crucial moments in game 4, he never shared the ball to KD even though KD is a good closer compared to him. Also, KD should have been MVP is Westbrook is not playing like a superstar wannabee.

    Give the ball to KD and make KD the first option not Westbrook.

  7. JAYRICH says:

    I DNT BELIEVE OKC IS GONE BEAT MEMPHIS WIT ONLY TWO PLAYERS(WESTBROOK AN DURRANT) MEMPHIS HAS MORE THAN TWO PLAYERS THEY CAN GET 20 POINTS OR MORE FROM AN THEY ALSO HAVE BETTER ”D”. LETZ GO GRIZZ AN MAKE HISTORY!

  8. okcmc says:

    okc will have more chance with dallas than mephis cause the matchup. so please win okc its going to be a dog fight in game 5, 6, maybe even 7

  9. canada123 says:

    people who comment here make absolutly no sense. How are miami a sure thing winning the eastern conference they still have to finish off boston and then probly play chicago which are both not givens. I hate how people are allready giving them the eastern conference crown and yes people dallas will win the championship this year with huge additions despite losing butler. getting chandler was masterful and dallas has the best bench in the nba hands down therefor the best depht and finally they have.. the most clutch player still playing in the playoffs GO DIRK

  10. RebarRudy says:

    Two great teams playing head on basketball. It doesn’t get any better. OKC and Grizzlies are the two best teams in the NBA right now.

    • Brian says:

      That’s pretty hard to argue.

    • DR1 says:

      Actually Chicago is the best team in the NBA.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        chicago is the overall number one seed yes, however they did struggle with a team that was 8 or 9 games under .500 (pacers)and made the playoffs, so far they have struggled with the Hawks (pretty much at the highlight factory) at the same time OKC wiped out a Denver team that is much better than the Pacers, and the Grizz knocked off the west # 1 seed. Both teams are playing at least to the level Chicago is playing at (in the playoffs, and OKC since the trade). I think no matter who is in the finals of the teams left it will be a good series

      • Brian says:

        Derrick Rose isn’t technically a “team”. We’re talking about teams. Pay attention.

      • Brian says:

        See Game 5 of the OKC/Memphis series, then tell me who the best TEAM in the NBA is. All active Thunder players score at least one point, even seldom-used Robinson and Ivey. Chicago has flashes of team basketball, but they don’t have the depth that the Thunder have.

  11. mabuhay says:

    So far it has been exticing series but it does not matter after this one, Mavs will win the Western Conference.

  12. Jazzman says:

    History says in last 20 yrs there have been only 4-6 NBA playoff games that have gone triple OT. It could have ended in first OT. 3 Thunder players had 5 fouls in 4th qt. I don’t think any of them fouled out or at the most 1. Grizzlie may have given away the goose that laid the golden egg.

  13. Steven says:

    This is best playoff series since Chicago took Boston to 7 games in 2009. Really hard to pick whose going to win this, but we can all expect some great basketball over the next three games (I do think it’ll go to game 7).

    • Brian says:

      I’m inclined to agree with you on that one. This series is too evenly matched to not see a Game 7.

  14. Rooter says:

    I was rooting for these two teams to make it through the first round and square off and the series is everything I expected and more!

    It’d be nice if Rudy Gay played too, giving the Grizz some more scoring from the perimeter. Next year!

  15. NetsNetsNets says:

    It has been a good series but I believe whoever actually does win this series is not gonna make it to the finals. Because this series is gonna go 7 games and each team is giving it everything they got while Dallas is resting all their players and watching film and preparing. Not saying Dallas will sweep in the conference finals cause I think both the Grizz and Thunder have too much heart to let that happen but I think we’re gonna see Dallas make it to the finals again. And it won’t be good if they have to play the heat again

    • QuestionMark says:

      I actaully think Dallas may beat the Heat in the Finals this year if they both make it, There is no way Bosh can guard Dirk, Chandler has too much size and atleticisim to let Joel Anthony and Big Z guard him, Kidd has the advantage over Bibby and Chalmers, only advantage Heat have are Wade and Lebron, Dirk will have like a 40pt night each game with Bosh on him, and if Terry and Peja can knock down 3s like in Game 4 vs L.A then Heat are done, and before anyone says Wade and Lebron are good defenders, so were Kobe and Artest and look how well that worked out. Hopefully OKC can edge out the Mavs but I doubt it.

      • NetsNetsNets says:

        I would love to see the Mavs beat the Heat in the Finals but the thing is they have nobody to guard LBJ Wade. They are gonna average 70 points a game in that series if it happens. And honestly I think more than Terry and Peja have to make threes. You gotta see Kidd making threes, Barea and Marion attacking the basket and Chandler using that pick and roll a few times. Because when Peja is in the game LBJ is gonna go right at him. When Terry is in the game Wade is gonna go right at him. It would be a good series but I just see it going to 6 again with the same outcome. But hopefully the Mavs would win cause I love Dirk and Kidd. White boys still ballin

  16. wsmith says:

    This is a tough match up! Memphis has a chip on their shoulder coming in as the 8th seed (could have been 5th seed on the eastern conf) and playing lights out every night. OKC, with their boyscout motto, and with the taste of the 8th seed last year–wants more than just semifinals now. They know they have the hard working tenacity to take out any of the big contenders out there, especially the Heat; look at March’s 14W-2L record beating Miami, Charlotte, Portland, etc.
    I really think the key to this series is “consistency.” I also think thats the hidden statement in this article as well. The team who can stay focused and consistent on their game the longest will win the next few games.

    • Symokoto says:

      so far i would say memphis has been more consistent across all stats. while last night evened it up quite a bit, OKC had that terrible first game and floundered hard in game 3. memphis has played pretty solid throughout, espeically in the clutch.

  17. Rip Greenfire says:

    I hope everyone is watching this series.
    No Superstars, no hype, no crazy fans.
    Just basketball, straight up basketball.
    This is how every great team should be, burning the midnight oil for the win, not just folding over when your tired.
    I hope Gasol is watching his brother, maybe he’ll learn something.

    • Rip Greenfire says:

      I meant Pau Gasol

      • jpatomag says:

        no superstars? durant was up there in running for mvp. durant lead team usa with westbrook. they accounted for over half the points in game 4 and you said there are no superstars. do you even watch the nba?

    • thenamehere says:

      KD is a star not a superstar. until he get’s a ring he’s not a superstar just yet.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        The 2 time NBA scoring champion. (youngest to ever do it once let alone twice and only 11 people in history have dont it back to back) is not a superstar? So you are saying LeBron (as much as i hate him) is not a superstar, Does this apply to all sports? Dan Marino is not a superstar? lol you are just retarded for that comment. i guess that makes Shannon Brown at least twice as good as Durant cuz he has 2 rings right? Wouldnt that also make Robert Horry one of the greatest players of all time? you sir are a moron!

      • DM8488 says:

        how many hall of fame superstars dont have a ring? john stockton karl malone reggie miller charles barkley elgin baylor must i go on? get real

      • OKCFAN says:

        @thenamehere, So I’m guessing prior to this season, lebron has been a superstar even though he didn’t win a ring? Haha you got caught with a stupid comment there, relax.

  18. DTAB says:

    These two teams have the hearts of champions. I love this series and I love the way these guys compete. Its not about money. Its about the game. At least for now.

  19. Grizzlies says:

    Also according to Elias Sports Bureau, the last three teams in NBA history that won a triple-overtime playoff game lost the series.

  20. Noodles says:

    Im glad Ibaka got alot of rest in Game 4 also but dont forget he sat down bc of an injury so that may be a problem. Otherwise yes this series is the best and is the most competitive in my mind bc both teams are competing! As an OKC fan I feared playing memphis as well especially after our game one. But I was confident in OKC and knew we have what it takes to get the job done. Its jut a maturation issue. I agree with OKCKD35 that the memphis bigs will be too exhausted to perform to their norm…but also conley and mayo fouled out and therefore got sum rest as well. Westbrook needs to step up his D on conley bc conley is gettin more and more confident as the series continues. Either way it goes I think whoever wins tonight will win the series…Go Thunder!!

  21. Lee says:

    that game has got to be up there as one of the best in a playoff series, (and iv seen plenty) both teams are practically rookies in the second round and yet both displayed poise and determination like a vereran team. the best so far in this year’s playoffs, im hoping Memphis wins the series

  22. Vincent says:

    This series is a test of will to win. Even their youth is put to the test in this series. Does both teams have enough energy to last and eventually win? In this kind of series everyone is inspired to step up their game because they know the first and second rotation will get tired and they will have chance to play long minutes. The bench players will be a big factor for both teams.

  23. got_watcha_want says:

    I am a huge fan of OKC here in the OK state, but I can say without bias that I have not a clue how this series will end. I am rooting for the Thunder, but man that Grizzlies team has some wicked defense if you ask me, and Hollins can coach quite well IMO. This series has been soooo much fun and I was soooo right about it before it started because I knew it would be.

    Rise Together OKC!!!

    • Symokoto says:

      agree with this completely. grizzlies are tough in every way. the thunder find surprising reservoirs of strength. i’m almost sorry one of these teams have to fall so early. next season should be even more epic.

  24. Alex Olivier says:

    GO! Memphis!!!!! that was a good Rally….. We believe you can go through WEST Championship and to d NBA Finals!

  25. OKCKD35 says:

    I dont think at least for game 5 that it will be as close, here is my reasoning. With a turnaround time of less than 48 hours after a triple overtime game i do not think the BIGS of Memphis will be able to be effective in the second half tonight, the good news for OKC is Ibaka and Perk were on the bench a lot and should be fresh and ready to run! go OKC!

    • OKLAHOMARA says:

      i believe Thunder will make a statement tonight , about who is the boss of this series….Let’s go OKC …:) :) OKC TILL THE END…..THUNDER UP

    • GrizzFan says:

      Grizz all the Way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Notice its Grizz Game 1 and 3, OKC game 2 and 4. I say Grizz will take games 5 and 7, and Okc will take Game 6. Not once did Grizz or OKC take 2 games in a row!! My Prediction Grizz vs Miami in Finals – You heard it Here First!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Go Grizzlies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • OKCKD35 says:

        you got game one by jumping on a rusty team who was on break waiting for the series to start, If you think you are going to take two more in OKC you are sadly mistaken, we should have game 3 if not fot the refs gift wrapping the game in OT with12 free throw attmepts. Z-Bo wont get all of those calls in OKC, (hitting 3 people in the face, elbowing, holding jerseys) and only had 1 foul in regulation. Not gonna happen, keep dreaming, your series went out the door with KD closing out the 3rd OT

      • KDEISEL says:

        Grizz fan, i salute your team. playing this well without their star forward is just huge. i wouldnt be surprised if they pulled another upset and beat OKC. but as a OKC fan from here in SEATTLE WA, and been followin KD since his college days! i gotta say i gotta feelin KD is gonna pull somethin special tonight!!! (as more of that and1 magic he pulled on battier in the last minutes)

    • OKCKD35 says:

      Wow am i a fortune teller or what? NBA Pay me to be an analyst!

  26. AC says:

    When i saw this playoff match, i was the least interested just because its memphis. However, the way the series is turning out is making me eat my words! This is probably the more entertaining matchups in the second round! That’s saying a lot from a mavs fan after seeing them sweep the champs

  27. DJ says:

    THIS is the BEST OVERTIME Game I’ve ever seen this playoffs.

    • Ismaeel says:

      Well then you didn’t watch the Bulls-Celtics series a few years ago.

      • Andrew Chan says:

        He said “this playoffs.” The Bulls-Celtics matchup never materialized this year due to the Heat knocking the Celtics…

  28. OKC_fan_from_PH says:

    without a doubt Best series in the playoffs! I really wished SA won coz i think OKC can beat them than memphis but im still hoping Durant and the franchise can go straight to the finals! but kudos to to memphis! OKC vs MIA?