The Grizzlies could still be far more dangerous in the playoffs. They’re a Western Conference finalist from a season ago that would likely have a far better record had Marc Gasol not missed 23 games. Memphis went 10-13 without its now-healthy All-Star center and 39-19 with him.
And he’s part of a skilled, powerful front-line that may not beat OKC in a 7-game series, but could bruise the Thunder up enough to soften them for future opponents.
But if the Thunder suffers another surprising loss on Wednesday, and the Clippers win, that Mavs-Grizz game would have no affect on OKC.
In that scenario, OKC’s three-game slide to end the season would mean a loss of homecourt in the second round and a date with Steph Curry and the potentially deadly Warriors in the first round.
Last season, Golden State came out of the same sixth seed to nearly win two rounds. The Warriors are without starting center Andrew Bogut, but still have the shooting proficiency of Curry and Klay Thompson, making them a less than ideal opening draw.
The Thunder will be favored in any series, but matchups often dictate playoff basketball.
“With the personnel that we have, when it’s time, we can match up with anybody,” Kendrick Perkins said. “It’s a different ballgame when we get into playoff mode.”
A lot of scenarios remain in play heading into the final night. A lot of scoreboard watching for the Thunder.
But some playing, too, because of a bad night in the Big Easy.