THUNDER’S REIGN ENDS
The Thunder’s three-year run of leading the league in free throws ended this year.
Oklahoma City, with an 80.6 percent rate, ranked second behind Portland (81.5 percent).
The Thunder’s 25 average attempts marked the fewest the franchise has taken per game since relocating to OKC. But the team’s success rate at the foul line illustrates why it’s important for the Thunder to continue to manufacture trips to the line.
“We have to get to the free-throw line,” Brooks said. “We’ve been one of the league leaders for many years. This year we’ve kind of dropped off. We’re trying to get a few other guys involved with getting to the line, but you have to get there by getting fouled.”
The Thunder has ranked in the top 10 in free-throw shooting in each of the past six years. OKC has been among the top two most accurate teams in each of the past five years.
REBOUNDING WILL BE KEY
Against the Grizzlies’ big man duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, the Thunder will need to rebound.
To do that well, OKC must first focus on fundamentals.
“We’re going to have to block them out,” Brooks said. “We’re going to have to put a body on them. They’ve got three or four offensive rebounders, counting Tony Allen. Every team that plays Memphis, that’s what you have to do.”
The Thunder has been most successful when winning the rebounding battle. OKC went 44-8 this season when outrebounding its opponent. The Thunder was 17-2 in games in which it won the rebounding department by at least 10.
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins on Westbrook playing the Grizzlies after missing last year’s second-round series with a knee injury — “I know he gon’ come out like animal.”