It's win or go home for both teams as the Grizzlies and Thunder will lock up in a Game 7 matchup this afternoon. While the Grizzlies have already "won" the playoffs--beating the top-seeded Spurs and taking the Thunder to a Game 7 in the second round--it's not enough to simply look at this game as anything other than a must-win. The obviously implications are, lose and go home. But, again, it's really not enough, not at this point, to say "Oh well, we played the Thunder tough in this series and earned the respect of.... blah, blah, blah."
The Grizzlies have a winnable game on their hands. Sure when last we met the Thunder in OKC we were blown out, but this is a different story. For all the talent on the other side of the court we can't say that the Thunder are a playoff tested team. The jitters will go both ways. Durant said it himself, he's had trouble sleeping after his horrible Game 6 performance.
I wrote about Durant and his pending bounce back game, but reader sglustra brought up a great point about free throws. Should Durant get 10+ free throws this is going to be a long afternoon for the Grizzlies. But if they can contain him and keep him to taking long jumpers they'll be in this game until the final buzzer.
It's also going to be important to contain James Harden off the bench. Much like O.J. Mayo meant to us prior to his move to the starting lineup in Game 6, Harden is as equally, if not more important to the Thunder.
Russell Westbrook is going to come out of the gate like a bullet. The question here will be whether or not the Grizzlies can force him into making Westbrook-like decisions or will they allow him to penetrate the paint like he did in Game 4. Please do enjoy these complimentary wide-open look from beyond 16 feet of the rim, Westbrook. Take as many as you'd like!
The key for the Grizzlies will naturally be Zach Randolph. He needs to remain level-headed as Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka try to goad him into a slap fest in the paint. Z-Bo need not only stay out of foul trouble but he needs to make sure he remains composed. It's all about Randolph!
I could go on, but we're within 2 hours of tip off time. I need to run around the block a few times to get the pre-game jitters out. Until tip, enjoy the Randolph theme song!