Thunder knows the issues it needs to address for Game 2
Right off the bat, Thunder coach Scott Brooks was asked following Monday's practice if he needed to change his game plan or whether his players simply needed to execute it better in Game 2 against Memphis on Tuesday night.
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“We have to play better,” Brooks said.
Tough to argue with that.
In Game 1 of this Western Conference semifinal, the Thunder was tremendously outplayed by a tougher, more physical Grizzlies team. Everything that could have gone wrong for the Thunder went horribly wrong. And everything the Grizzlies could have done well, they did extremely well.
Grizzlies post players Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 54 points and 23 rebounds while shooting 21 of 33 from the field. The Grizzlies had 52 points in the paint, largely as a result of 17 offensive rebounds that led to 23 second-chance points. Memphis had only eight turnovers. And the Grizzlies' role players, Sam Young, Tony Allen, Mike Conley and Shane Battier, combined to score 44 points on 17 of 39 shooting.
“Give Memphis a lot of credit,” Brooks said. “They came in and played good basketball. They did what they do well, and they did it consistently.”
Now, all the pressure is on the Thunder to stop them.
But that task starts with the Thunder improving in the areas that it can control. Oklahoma City had 18 turnovers, which led to 22 Grizzlies points. That means 65 percent of Memphis' points came inside or off turnovers.
“We have to get better in those areas,” Brooks said. “That's their strength, and they had their way with their strength.”
Unlike seemingly the rest of the state, though, the sky was not falling above Thunder headquarters. True story. At Monday's practice, Brooks and his players were optimistic about finding solutions to Sunday's struggles, and the Thunder can take some sort of solace in knowing that it is 22-6 this season after a loss. But Sunday proved that the key for Game 2 will be setting the tone from the start.
“We got to be more physical,” said Thunder guard James Harden. “They brought a lot more energy than we did. We just got to stick with it for 48 minutes. I think we had spurts of Thunder basketball, and then we had spurts where we were lost out there.”
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