Grizzlies Grades: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder - Game 1

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Grizzlies 86 - Thunder 100

STARTERS

Zach Randolph : (C) 39 MIN | 21 PTS | 7-21 FG | 11 REB | 3 AST | 1 BLK | 1 TO | -2

There are currently only two teams in the NBA that forces Zbo into playing frazzled basketball, they are the Spurs and the Thunder. Ibaka and Collison were able to soak up all the physical contact dished out by Zach in the post, while being athletic enough to be right there to challenge Zbo's shots every single time. This resulted in ill-disciplined shots, rushed shots, rushed tips, poor FT shooting and general ineffectiveness by Zbo overall. The Thunder were also able to bait Zach into several ticky-tack loose ball fouls which added to the frustration. Rather than doing things faster, Zach will instead need to slow things down, be more pedantic with his offensive moves, grab the loose balls instead of tipping them, and focus on the fact that he isn't going to out-quick or out-jump anybody, he will need to out-compose his defenders in order to finish shots that he normally makes against everyone else.

Tayshaun Prince : (N/A) 4 MIN | 0 PTS | 0-1 FG | -11

A less than 100% Prince wasn't going to be anywhere good enough to slow down the most unstoppable force in the NBA, the writing was on the wall just four minutes into the game, as Durant got whatever he wanted without much resistance from Tayshaun. The Grizzlies will sorely need Prince back in the lineup, but only if he is 100% healthy, otherwise a compromised Prince might yield disastrous results.

Marc Gasol : (C) 45 MIN | 16 PTS | 7-19 FG | 6 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 1 TO | -15

Like all Grizzlies players in the first half, Gasol was guilty of missing a ton of makable shots at short ranges. Even when he got to the line he could not cash in. However during the second half Marc decided that no one in the Thunder has the ability to guard him effectively, so Big Spain simply bulled his way into the paint and got good looks repeatedly. I understand a comeback was in the works during the third quarter, but an insane 45 minutes played for a lumbering Center is certainly not a good strategy for winning basketball in the long term, so Joerger will really need to give the rotation players the required time to spell Gasol, and to also get themselves into rhythm as well.

Mike Conley : (C+) 39 MIN | 16 PTS | 6-16 FG | 5 REB | 11 AST | 3 STL | 1 TO | -10

Was thoroughly embarrassed by Westbrook in the first quarter as Mike persisted with long attempts and was getting eating alive by Westbook from all possible angles. After a better offensive showing in second quarter, Conley came alive in the third, forming a hyperactive defensive tandem with TA and wrecked havoc on the Thunder on both ends of the floor. However after playing all of the third quarter just to catch up on the scoreboard, it took a heavy toll on Conley as he simply did not have the legs to maintain his high energy during closing time.

Courtney Lee : (C-) 29 MIN | 8 PTS | 4-6 FG | 1 REB | 1 BLK | -2

Overwhelmed by the atmosphere to begin the game, Lee was way too passive on offense which allowed the Thunder to absolutely crowd the paint, basically daring the Grizzlies to beat them from the outside. The Grizzlies obliged by not making a shot from outside the paint until the very last shot attempt of the half. Lee was also exploited on transition defense, often times stuck in the mud while committing multiple soft fouls and was promptly benched for TA. Lee got his head back into the game during the Grizzlies inspired comeback in the third quarter, but more silly fouls and missed defensive assignments during the fourth killed off the Grizzlies comeback. Lee will need to find his confidence immediately in order the get the starting unit's offensive balance back, consider his third quarter the bare minimum of what's required.

BENCH

Tony Allen : (A+) 33 MIN | 13 PTS | 6-12 FG | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 TO | +9

All heart, grit and grind. TA's 20 minutes of wrecking ball play in the second half not only initiated the comeback, but more importantly, TA's "all-heart-and-soul" effort showed every single one of his teammates EXACTLY what type of effort it takes to beat this much more fancied Thunder team. TA spent the entire second half glued to KD's jockstrap, forcing KD into passiveness which in turn caused Westbrook to stagnant their offense. TA's defensive plays also ignited his team's offense, with his fast break buckets and playmaking leading the way. TA still made mistakes on both ends, but his play would have opened Joerger's eyes in coming up with the right blueprint to beat the Thunder. Without TA influence, I was ready to declare that the Grizzlies don't have a chance to take this series. TA be our saviour!

Beno Udrih : (C-) 15 MIN | 3 PTS | 1-4 FG | 4 REB | 1 AST | -6

It's obvious that Udrih just hasn't had enough court time with the Grizzlies to be able to make plays for his teammates, so his focus should be (1) Play solid defense, MUST NOT ALLOW any transition buckets, (2) pick your spots on offense, every shot that goes up needs to be within the flow and high percentage, (3) Make your free throws. If Beno can focus on these three tasks and keep things simple, his 10-15 minutes will become a lot more meaningful.

James Johnson : (C) 6 MIN | 4 PTS | 1-3 FG | 1 REB | -6

Filled in for Prince when JJ wasn't expected to feature in the game, hit the only shot outside the paint in the first half which mercifully avoided the Grizzlies from infamy. If Prince won't be able to go in game 2, it would be easy to assume that TA will start after his all-world performance, but it will dilute the already shaky bench even further. For the sake of balance, JJ starting and playing in short bursts would be my preference.

Mike Miller : (D) 20 MIN | 3 PTS | 1-6 FG | 1-2 3P | 3 REB | -21

Couldn't hit his shots and couldn't keep guys like Butler and Fisher in front of him in defense, that about sums up Miller's night. Both Lee and Miller will need to bounce back in a big way both offensively and defensively in order to quieten the raucous OKC crowd.

Kosta Koufos : (C-) 5 MIN | 2 PTS | 0-1 FG | 1 REB | 1 AST | -4

Gasol simply cannot be playing 45 minutes a night, this means Kosta will need to step up and play big and physical in order to have a positive influence on the court. His recent play with the ball in hand around the rim has been disappointing due to the lack of initiation of contact on his defender before he puts up a shot. Physicality is the name of the game in the Playoffs, so Kosta will need to mix it up with the big boys and get "more aggro" in order to play effectively.

Ed Davis : (C) 4 MIN | 0 PTS | 0-1 FG | 2 REB | -3

As is the case with Koufos, Davis will need to give Joerger good reasons to give him relevant playing time, which means Ed will need to play with aggression and reckless abandon. Simply focus on playing better, smarter and hungrier than the opponent that's matched up against you and everything else will fall into place.

OPPONENT

Oklahoma City Thunder : (A-)

Taking advantage of their emotional crowd, the Thunder's game plan was to make life as tough as possible for the Grizzlies frontline, run at every opportunity and let KD and Westbrook be the Superstars that they are. They executed it to perfection in the first half as the Grizzlies played like a deer in the headlight. Even when the Grizzlies started an amazing, gritty come back in the second half, they over-exerted their starters and the fresher Thunder team finished the job by attacking the basket, drawing fouls and making an absurd percentage of foul shots to seal the game.

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