The Western Conference semifinal series between the OKC Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies continues with Game 2 on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
And whoever loses will have four days to think about it.
Game 3 won't be held until Saturday at 4 p.m. at FedExForum in Memphis, which is an abnormally long break between games during a playoff series.
Asked if this added any importance to Game 2, most players and coaches stuck to their obligatory “one game at a time” mantra. But imagine Tuesday's loser having to wait all day Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and 16 hours on Saturday before being able to overcome the setback.
A victory would be particularly beneficial to the top-seeded Thunder, which would maintain its home-court advantage after a pulsating 93-91 comeback victory in Game 1 on Sunday.
OKC also will have three practice days to further adjust to the absence of three-time All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who was lost for the season after knee surgery 10 days ago.
Thunder sixth man Kevin Martin admitted Game 2 could have added importance. “Yeah, I think so,” Martin said, “and of course we want to keep that home-court advantage, so we want to win every game at home. We're up for the challenge and I'm sure they are, too.”
There were several key defensive moments for the Thunder in the closing minutes of Game 1.
One came with 3:25 left. OKC was in the midst of a 7-0 run to tie the score at 84 when Martin blocked a Quincy Pondexter jumper inside the lane that wound up being a jump ball the Thunder later controlled.
Martin, who has been criticized throughout his career for his one-on-one defense, had just eight blocks in 77 regular-season games this year. That's 234 fewer blocks than NBA leader Serge Ibaka.
Playfully asked if Ibaka or any other teammate gave him grief about blocking such an important shot, Martin smiled and deadpanned: “Nah, that's what I do. I block shots. ... No, it was just an in-the-moment thing, doing anything to spark our defense.”
It's understandable how OKC center Kendrick Perkins (1 for 6) and Ibaka (1 for 10) could have been distracted offensively while shooting a combined 2 for 16 from the field in Game 1.