Grizzlies-Thunder Game 4 Preview: About Execution and Not Necessarily Adjustments

Looking back at Game 3, what you take away from the Grizzlies' performance is that they need to continue to execute on both ends of the floor and not necessarily adjust their game plan. Consider this, the Griz held the Thunder to 36% shooting from the floor, 19% from the 3-point line, forced Russell Westbrook to turn the ball over 7 times, forced Westbrook to take 10 jumpers from 16 feet or beyond, held Kevin Durant to 10-of-24 shooting from the floor, messed around with James Harden on the defensive side of the ball, shot 37% from the floor themselves, and had to play perfect basketball in order to come back from down 16 points late in the 3rd quarter in order to win. 

As far as I'm concerned, if you hound Durant with Tony Allen and force him to take some 15-plus contested shots, force Westbrook into long jumpers and, yes, MAKE LAYUPS on the offensive side of the ball, the Griz could be well on their way to taking a 3-1 series advantage. 

The Grizzlies also need O.J. Mayo to continue to add some outside support. Yes, he made just 2-of-6 threes in Game 3, but those two makes ended up being key in the Grizzlies comeback. We've said this a million times before, but without an outside game the Grizzlies are going to struggle in the paint with the Thunder packing it in. Look back at Game 1. It was actually Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph who hit long jumpers and opened up the baseline and and lanes for Tony Allen and Mike Conley and Shane Battier to cut. Jumpers... layups... got it! 

Again, on defense the Grizzlies need to, believe it or not, keep the ball in Westbrook's hands. Make him believe that he's the hero on this team. The more jumpers he takes, the fewer Durant takes. Also, consider that the Thunder took just 38 shots within 10 feet of the basket. That is a huge win for the Grizzlies. Especially when you consider that Westbrook took just 8 of his 22 shot attempts within the 10-foot range. This trend needs to continue. 

I'm not one to pile on Westbrook, though I do think he helped lose Game 3 (as much as Tony Allen helped the Grizzlies win it). But what we have learned, or what we already knew which Scott Brooks failed to address, the more we let Westbrook shoot jumpers, the better shape we're in. If Brooks were to take just ONE page our of Coach Popovich's playbook, it's that when the Spurs were most successful against the Grizzlies, Tony Parker was backing Mike Conley down in the post. Though, that page might have been missing already because Pop abandoned that set far too often on the first round. 

So, here were are at Game 4. Still home, where we're 4-0 in the playoffs, and in great shape to put the Thunder far back on their heels. It's by no means a must-win game for the Grizzlies, but to think that all they need to do is win out at home and, well, this is close to a must-win. 

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