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Oklahoma City Thunder: Nick Collison will be key against Memphis

Thunder forward will try to help corral the Grizzlies' Zach Randolph, who seems to get to every rebound.
By John Rohde Published: May 4, 2013

“He's always going to be a tough matchup,” Collison said. “They're going to go to him. He's going to get points. He's going to get rebounds.”

The beginning of this second-round series rekindles memories of the 2011 second-round series between the Thunder and Grizzlies that OKC wound up winning 4-3.

In Memphis' convincing victory in Game 1 at The Peake, Randolph single-handedly mauled OKC with 34 points, 10 rebounds (six offensive), three steals and two assists. The Thunder was down 1-0 in the series and appeared to have no answer.

After playing just 15 minutes in Game 1, Collison played 25 minutes in Game 2 while pestering, prodding and positioning himself against Randolph the whole time. Randolph shot 2 for 13 that night, finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Arguably the most physical team in the league, the no-nonsense Grizzlies led the NBA in scoring defense (89.3) and opponent rebounds (39.1) and finished third in opponent field-goal percentage (.435) and offensive rebounds (12.9) this season.

“We've had a lot of difficult games with them,” Collison said. “I think both teams understand what the other one's going to do. There's not a lot of tricks.

“They have physical guys. They try to get the ball inside. They're one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league. They have guys who are cutters, they're always trying to get layups at the rim and defensively they always cause a lot of turnovers. They defend physically. They use their hands. It's just their style of play, and you have to be able to match that.

“The big thing is to keep a tight paint and make every (shot be) contested.”