Credit Grizzlies for contesting Thunder

By John Schuhmann,

VIDEO: Mike Miller and Russell Westbrook duel in Game 5

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Oklahoma City Thunder rank first in postseason defensive efficiency, having allowed the Memphis Grizzlies to score just 99.1 points per 100 possessions. But the Grizzlies were the worst offensive team among Western Conference playoff teams. The 99.1 points per 100 possessions they’ve scored through five games is 4.2 fewer than they scored in the regular season.

The Thunder’s efficiency, meanwhile, has dropped off twice as much, making it clear that the Grizzlies have been the better defensive team in the series.

Biggest drop-off, regular season to playoff OffRtg

Team Reg. season Rank Playoffs Rank Diff.
Oklahoma City 108.1 7 99.7 14 -8.4
Memphis 103.3 16 99.1 16 -4.2
San Antonio 108.2 6 105.7 7 -2.5
Charlotte 101.2 24 99.6 15 -1.6
Atlanta 103.4 15 101.9 11 -1.5
Dallas 109.0 3 107.5 5 -1.4
Toronto 105.8 9 104.7 10 -1.1
Golden State 105.3 12 105.2 8 -0.1
Indiana 101.5 22 101.5 12 -0.1
Chicago 99.7 28 100.4 13 +0.7
Miami 109.0 2 109.8 4 +0.7
Washington 103.3 18 104.8 9 +1.5
Houston 108.6 4 110.4 3 +1.7
Brooklyn 104.4 14 106.3 6 +1.9
L.A. Clippers 109.4 1 111.9 2 +2.5
Portland 108.3 5 112.5 1 +4.2

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions

Using the same method, the Clippers have been the best offensive team in the playoffs, scoring 12.0 more points per 100 possessions (111.9) than the Warriors allowed in the regular season (99.9).

The Thunder have also had the biggest change in pace from the regular season. At 90.5 possessions per team per 48 minutes, the series has been played even slower than the Grizzlies’ pace of 92.2, which was the slowest in the regular season.

A look at OKC’s offensive numbers show that it’s all about the shooting. They’ve gone to the line a little less frequently than they did in the regular season, but they’ve rebounded better and turned the ball over less.

And SportVU helps us understand why their shooting numbers have suffered so much. Only 49 percent of the Thunder’s jump shots have been uncontested, down from 63 percent in the regular season. The other 15 teams have been uncontested on 67 percent of their jump shots.

Biggest drop-off, percentage of jump shots uncontested

Team Reg. season Playoffs Diff.
Oklahoma City 62.7% 48.6% -14.1%
Houston 74.7% 67.5% -7.2%
Golden State 68.4% 61.3% -7.1%
Charlotte 66.2% 60.2% -6.0%
Miami 76.1% 70.7% -5.4%
Chicago 69.3% 64.0% -5.3%
Dallas 62.7% 58.1% -4.6%
Atlanta 75.4% 71.5% -3.9%
L.A. Clippers 71.0% 68.6% -2.4%
Toronto 60.4% 58.4% -2.0%
Portland 68.6% 67.0% -1.6%
Washington 72.7% 72.2% -0.5%
Brooklyn 65.3% 66.3% +1.0%
San Antonio 74.3% 76.1% +1.8%
Indiana 70.1% 72.3% +2.2%
Memphis 74.0% 77.4% +3.4%

Jump shot = FGA from outside 10 feet
Uncontested = Where a defender is not within four feet of the shooter.

According to SportVU, Kevin Durant (64 of his 89 total jumpers) has taken 20 more contested jumpers than any other player in the postseason. Next on the list is Russell Westbrook (44 of his 81).

Scott Brooks needs to find a way to get his star more open, but credit the Memphis defense, which has been far better than any other D in the playoffs so far, and which can put the Grizzlies into the conference semifinals with a win in Game 6 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, TNT).


  1. Jerry Lynch says:

    I would like to thank Zach Randolph. The Thunder could not have won without you.


  2. tim says:

    Memphis needs a “superstar” . The NBA decided this series because they wanted the two cry babies Durant and Westbrook to win. Memphis was jobbed. No way was that a punch. A superstar league. They get the calls and if that don’t work make up a suspension.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Wouldn’t have mattered. OKC was toying with Memphis this whole time. OKC blew out Memphis in Games 6 and 7.

      Since OKC can handle Zach Randolph, they can EASILY handle Blake Griffin. Zach is actually a better post-up big than Griffin, although Griffin is way more athletic.

      That matches up much better of OKC and Serge Ibaka.

      The hard part is over. OKC shall dominate the rest of the way.

      Watch and learn.

      KD is a modern-day Michael Jordan; Russell Westbrook is a modern-day Oscar Robertson (or even better).

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        No one in NBA history had a triple-double like Westbrook had in Game 7.

        And that was against a great defensive team like Memphis.

        Imagine what’s going to happen against a terrible defensive team like the Clippers.

        If the Clippers can’t guard Golden State, they have no chance against the healthy OKC Thunder.


    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      BTW, I’m certain Zach just meant to “shove” Stephen Adams; however, on the replay, he clearly hit Adams’ chin area with a clenched fist.

      Not allowed to do that. If you do, you get an automatic one-game suspension. It has happened before this season.

      Those are the rules.

  3. OKc2014 says:

    Face it, Memphis has won series. Should have kept Green and Harden. Team was a lot better 3 years ago

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      That’s what we WANT you to think. Strategy. When the OKC Thunder turns up the intensity to the max, they are unbeatable. I miss Green and Harden but they have excellent careers with Boston and Houston.

      Plus, if necessary, OKC can go after Carmelo Anthony after they win the 2014 NBA World Championship.

      But for now, Caron Butler has successfully replaced Jeff Green.

      Reggie Jackson has successfully replaced James Harden.

      Jeremy Lamb will successfully replace Kevin Martin.

      Stephen Adams is a future DPOY candidate, and Serge Ibaka SHOULD HAVE won the DPOY, not Noah.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      I thought Game 6 was gonna be close. Nope, OKC blew out Memphis on their home floor. They made it look easy.\

      OKC will win it all.

  4. Shawn Kemp no. 1 says:

    and coach Brooks doesn’t have the guts to deal with Russel and tell him what he needs to be told

  5. Shawn Kemp no. 1 says:

    Westbrook is an amazing athlete, but not even an average point guard

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      OKC was toying with Memphis the whole time. Westbrook is so good that he can play PG or SG. Had another triple-double in Game 7.

  6. joebob says:

    I think i am confused as much as thunder team is. the thunder team looks confused in this series due to good defense applied by Menphis players in partucilar Tony Allen as ALLEN is getting away with lots fouls not being called.I have seen him knock someone doun and climb up their back and yet no fouls. I THINK THE REF,S NEED BE QUESTION MORE ON THEIR CALLS.There was no excuse for the ref to disrupt Durant at the free throw line with the game on the line.

  7. The Angry Buddhist says:

    For trading James Harden for essentially nothing, and Jeff Green for the worst center in the NBA, Kendrick Perkins, OKC will be cursed for a century like the Boston Red Sox. Scott Brooks is a terrible coach, nothing is ever run for Ibaka, the entire offense is high screen rolls. Westbrook is a complete psycho who hasn’t learned a thing about the game. Go Memphis

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      You were fooled. As was I. OKC dominated Games 6 and 7. KD and Russ were spectacular. Caron Butler is playing like an All Star again.

      OKC will win the next 10 – 15 NBA Titles.

      They survived Memphis. That was the hard part. Now they have to face the Clippers and their weak defense?


      BTW, Jeremy Lamb is more than “nothing.” OKC still needs Perkins for defensive purposes. He and Stephen Adams and Serge Ibaka are going to shred the Clippers’ weak frontcourt of Deandre and Blake. Ha!

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      “Hasn’t learned a thing about the game.”?

      Russell Westbrook was playing “possum.” The rope-a-dope. “Oh no, I’m struggling and taking too many shots.”

      “SIKE!” “Now watch when I play for real and dominate, including a triple-double unlike anything ever seen before in an NBA Playoff game.”