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Grizzlies vs. Thunder Game 3: Jump Ball

The Grizzlies get ready to take on the Thunder in Game 3 as both teams try to gain momentum going forward.

Ronald Martinez we are. Many moons have passed since last our beloved Grizzlies took the court, but basketball is finally back! I for one have thoroughly enjoyed our little break. My voice still isn't 100% from Game 4, and I'm just mentally exhausted. I tried forcing out a ‘While You Were Grinding' yesterday, but I couldn't get out anything other than "Tipsy-Tipsy Tiger Woods, y'all!" and a well crafted sentence on how gracefully and carefully the basketball gods constructed Wardell Stephen Curry.[1] Aside from that, and my excitement over Community being renewed for a fifth season, I had very little to give. Had I posted a piece yesterday, it would have been garbage. You're welcome.

Today, the break is over. Today, we return our attention to the basketball court. Today, we get back on the grind.

At 4:00pm today, the Oklahoma City Thunder invades the Grindhouse to take on our Memphis Grizzlies in Game 3 of the second round of the playoffs. With the series tied at one game apiece, you can expect another tightly contested matchup this afternoon. Memphis, undefeated on their home court in these playoffs, will look to maintain momentum and keep up their winning ways. The Thunder, led by a hungry Kevin Durant, will try to steal back homecourt advantage by winning at least one game here in Memphis. Statistically speaking, when a series is tied, Game 3 is not as important as Game 5, but make no bones about it; this is a game the Grizzlies need to win.

And it's one they'll have to want to win. Today's game is a jump ball. Come four o'clock, when the referee tosses the ball up in the air, he'll be tossing the game up in the air, and there will be a victory hovering above both teams just waiting to be seized. The Thunder are going to come in angry and desperate, determined to prove they can win in Memphis, and the Grizzlies will have to match their intensity and desire to win for a full 48 minutes. They've got to want it. They've got to want it more than Durant does. More than Macklemore wants your grandfather's clothes. More than I want to throw on my best suit and serenade the little redheaded girl to 'Dress On' by Justin Timberlake. More than anything. It won't be easy, but here are a few ways they can help their cause.

Keys to Success

Defend without fouling

The Thunder as a team shot 82% from the free-throw line in the regular season, the best in the NBA. In the playoffs, they're much closer to 90%! These guys simply do not miss. The Thunder will score plenty of points by attacking the rim and off smooth jumpers, the Grizzlies simply can't allow them to add 20 or more at the free throw line, especially when the Grizzlies are shooting just 66% in the second round. Kevin Martin is going to ball fake, don't bite. If you have your hands on Durant, he will sweep through you to draw the foul. In Game 1, the Thunder went 22/25 from the line, and in Game 2 an eerily similar 24/27. This is the NBA, there will be fouls called, some good, and others not as much good, but if the Grizzlies can limit their fouls and keep the Thunder's free throw attempts under 20, their odds of winning the game will increase substantially.

Don't Get Alex Smith'd

This expression derived from an old gamethread and recap way back when Tom Lorenzo was running the site (Miss you, T-LO, hope all is well). The Giants were facing the 49ers in a regular season matchup, and the New York game plan was simple: stop Frank Gore. "Stop Frank Gore, you win the game!" At the end of the game, Frank Gore had 6 rushes for 0 yards. The result? A Giant loss. They focused so much of their game plan on Gore, that they failed to stop Alex Smith and company from beating them through the air. The Grizzlies, no doubt, will be focused mainly on not letting Kevin Durant beat them, but they can't let their desire to limit his points leave Derek Fisher wide open for multiple 3's again. Memphis will have to do a good job of limiting the points from Martin, Jackson, Fisher and Ibaka. Game 2 showed made it pretty clear that Kevin Durant can't do it alone, so let's make him. If we get beat, let it be because Kevin Durant dropped 50+ on us, not because Fisher and Martin combined for eight 3's and 37 points.[2] Its one thing to get beat by a Kevin Durant or a Frank Gore, it's an entirely different thing to get Alex Smith'd.

Make Your %&$! Free Throws

Seriously, just do it.

It will be interesting to see how the layoff affects both teams. I tend to believe that the team with the least athletic players (Memphis) probably benefited from it greatly, but it's entirely possible that both teams come out flat to start the game. No doubt, the Grizzlies will rely heavily on the crowd all afternoon, and if we learned anything from the Clippers' series, its that these fans are ready to bring it. Game Thread and Grind Prophecies will be up later in the day. Until then, chat it up, and get ready to grind!


[1] In case you missed it, Tiger got drunk at/after a Vogue magazine event and embarrassed Lindsey Vonn, and Steph Curry can't stop. Not that he can't be stopped, or wont stop, he can't stop. Unless he's guarded by Danny Green of course.

[2] I was discussing this with Ryan last night, but let's say, hypothetically, Kevin Durant literally has to score every single point by himself. At what point do you stop caring if Memphis wins and just start rooting for Durant to get 100? When he's at 60? 70?