It took all 82 games and some slightly more-than-anticipated drama on the final night, but the Thunder finally learned its first-round opponent.
And it’s an all too familiar foe.
OKC faces the same Memphis Grizzlies team that knocked it out of last season’s playoffs, starting with an 8:30 p.m. tip Saturday in The Peake.
“They understand how we play,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “And we understand how they play.”
All too well.
This will be the third time in the past four postseasons that these two Western Conference titans have clashed. OKC knocked the Grizzlies out in 2011 during a wild seven-game tilt that included four overtimes.
Then last season, after Russell Westbrook went down with an injury, the Thunder fell to Memphis in a five-game series that was a lot less lopsided than it sounds. No game was decided by more than six points.
“Gonna be a tough series,” Kevin Durant said. “We got a lot of history with these guys.”
This season, the Thunder handled Memphis well, winning three of the four games in relatively easy fashion. But stretching the series history of these two back to that initial postseason meeting in 2011, it’s a nearly even split. The Thunder has won 12 games, the Grizzlies 11.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Brooks said. “Two (verse) seven, that means zero. It’s us against them. They’re a very good basketball team.”