When you hear GMs — or sometimes television pundits or Internet bloggers — talking about a team needing an identity, this series is exactly why.
The Thunder have had to scramble under pressure to develop a new identity without Russell Westbrook, to figure out how they can generate baskets outside Kevin Durant. The result was an ugly end for the Thunder in Game 3 and Durant coming out later and saying, “I can do a lot more.”
The Grizzlies know exactly who they are and what they want to do. It’s not always pretty but it is effective.
And that’s where we are at with Game 4 — Oklahoma City needs a big Night from Kevin Martin or Serge Ibaka or someone else, they need to find an identity fast. It’s not technically a must win game for OKC, but if the Thunder go down 3-1 in this series it’s hard to see how they climb out of the hole.
Not to sound simplistic, but the team that actually makes shots this game will win. The winning team shot 40.5 percent last game. It wasn’t pretty.
That is especially true for the Thunder — somebody not named Durant needs to knock down a shot. Anyone. Durant was 9-of-19 last game and you take that out and the rest of the Thunder shot 33 percent last game. Without Durant they were 3-of-12 from three. And with the Grizzlies defense geared up on him Durant can’t be as efficient as he normally is. The man needs help.
Memphis knows they got away with one in Game 3 — the Thunder won the battle on the boards, the points in the pain, the fast break points, the best postgame meal (probably). On paper, the Thunder should have won, save for the fact they couldn’t hit a shot. Give credit to the Grizzlies defense, but if they get outplayed like that again. Mike Conley and Zach Randolph were a combined 7-of-21 shooting, if that happens again the Grizzlies will lose. That simple.
Memphis has the advantage of knowing who and what the team is. OKC will have to figure it out on the fly or be in a deep, deep hole.