(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Tuesday night's Game 2 matchup between the Thunder and Grizzlies had a much different look and feel from Sunday afternoon's Game 1 rollover by OKC. The story of Game 2 is simple. The Thunder limited the Grizzlies to 34 points in the paint Tuesday night. Really, if the Grizz can't dominate the post they won't win another game in this series.
Memphis shot just 11-of-26 at the rim (42%) and 5-of-13 from the 3-9 foot range (38%). That's a stark difference from the 21-for-34 showing the Grizz had at the rim in Game 1. The paint will tell the tale in this series. I can't imagine we'll be talking about a game where the Grizz beat the Thunder with a post play stat-line similar to last night's. Not when we're among the bottom five teams in the league in efficiency from beyond 16 feet.
Credit the Thunder for making the adjustment.
You also have to give credit to Nick Collison who really made Zach Randolph work in the second half. I don't want to simplify his role, but he's essentially used as six hard fouls on Z-Bo. Both Collison and Serge Ibaka led the defensive front which made Randolph and Marc Gasol look pedestrian. Can't say enough about their impact -- especially as Kendrick Perkins looked like a mismatch at times.
Also key for the Thunder was the play of their guards off the bench. James Harden and Eric Maynor combined for 36 points on 11-of-16 shooting. This after combining to score 8 points on 2-of-8 shooting in Game 1. I think Someone finally told Maynor that Greivis Vasquez (-10 in 7 minutes) is more bark than bite on defense.
The turnover battle -- one which we're accustomed to winning -- was a wash, as both teams coughed the ball up 16 times. We know that in order for the Grizz to beat the Thunder they not only need to win the battle in the paint, but they need a 'plus' in the turnover battle. Again, see Game 1 for more on this.
One positive note from Game 2 was the ability of the Memphis guards to knock down long jumpers. Really, they did what they needed to do in order to add more paint support for Z-Bo and Gasol. The Thunder will, and should, give Conley, Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo those long jumpers in order to pack the paint. It's a small battle we can and did win on Tuesday night, but it's not enough for us to win the war. Conley and Mayo combined to go 7-of-8 from 16-23 feet and 4-of-9 from beyond the arc.
The takeaway from Game 2 is this: The series is far from over and, as expected, the Thunder had no intention of lying down after losing Game 1 at home. The Grizzlies now need to adjust their game, much like the Thunder did after Sunday's loss.
On the bright side, we're coming home we're tied 1-1, a scenario we all would have agreed to before the start of the series.
For more on the Thunder, see our friends over at Welcome to Loud City.