Tonight, the Grizzlies take on the Thunder in Game 4 of the Second Round. Up 2-1, Memphis is in an incredibly familiar situation. Two years ago, The Grizzlies held a 2-1 advantage over Oklahoma City heading into Game 4. With a chance to push the Thunder to the brink, Memphis fell short in the triple overtime thriller that saw improbable 3's from both Mike Conley and Greivis Vasquez help the Grizzlies keep the game alive. Memphis would go on to lose the series in 7 games. While the record still remains two games to one, the Grizzlies know they still have a lot of work left to do. In short, "we ain't done nothin' man!"
While the circumstances are incredibly different, the message remains the same, and I can assure you, we all do want a victory. Tonight's game is pivotal. Win, and you step on the throat of Oklahoma City, turning the rest of the series into a win or go home situation. Lose, and allow the Thunder to steal back home court advantage and put yourself in the exact same spot you were two years ago.
Of course by no means am I insinuating that if Memphis should lose tonight, the Thunder will win the series, but it certainly puts them into a less favorable situation. Any way you slice it, 2-2 is just not as comfortable as 3-1. Most fans will be hoping for less of an ugh-fest than Game 3 brought, but in the playoffs, a win is a win, and The Grizzlies will take every one they can get their paws on.
Keys to Success
The Remember the Titans clip has me in a good mood. Let's have some fun with today's keys and base them all off Denzel Washington movies.
Don't let Game 4 be a repeat of last years Game 4 or Saturday's Game 3. Both teams came out flat, and turnovers plagued the Grizzlies all game long, and had they lost, it would have been a direct result of all of the turnovers. With less of a layoff and more normal start time, I would expect Memphis to come out and do a far better job taking care of the basketball. If they do, it will go a long way towards determining whether or not the Thunder are alive or dead.
The Grizzlies will need to continue to do a good job riding the big fellas and the mismatches they create. If Kevin Durant is guarding Marc Gasol, Memphis should feed it to him every, single, time. If Zach has Collison at an angle, he needs to beat him off the dribble and attack the basket. These two guys have proven that when they get going, they are unstoppable, they're just too much train coming too fast, and no one on the Thunder has really proven they can slow them down, despite Zach's porous Game 3. The goal should be 45 and 20 out of the big guys tonight.
He Got Game
Kevin Durant did not have a Kevin Durant 4th quarter. He was 1-4 from the field and missed two crucial free throws. I don't expect that to happen tonight. With the season pretty well on the line, the safe money is on the Durantula coming out and having a monster game. And that's fine. The Grizzlies can let him get his, so long as they limit the supporting cast. Fisher/Martin/Jackson/Ibaka need to score no more than 40 points, meaning Durant would need 50+ for them to win. If he does that, they'll have earned the win. Because basketball is like poetry in motion. Cross the guy to the left, take him back to the right, he's fallin' back, then just J right in his face. Then you look at him and say, "What?"
Make Your @$#! Free Throws
Seriously, just do it.
The Thunder shot the ball so poorly, 36% for the game, and even missed a bunch of free throws. That won't happen again tonight. Expect Durant to come out like a Man on Fire and the rest of the team to try and follow suit. If Memphis wants to win this game and head back to Oklahoma City up 3-1, they'll need to not only have poise, but Courage Under Fire throughout the night. There is Glory to be had, just keep feeding the ball into your 2 Guns and let the Inside Man go to work, and continue to limit the role players. You may think I'm making Much Ado About Nothing, but all it takes is for Derek Fisher or Kevin Martin to get hot and make three or four from beyond the arc before they start looking like a Devil in a Blue Dress.
Tip off is at 8:30, and Grind Prophecies will be up shortly. Until then, talk it out here, hide some more Denzel movies in a Grizzlies paragraph, and most importantly, let's go to work.