Joerger met with his coaches, then with his players after arriving in Oklahoma City on Friday afternoon to try and figure out a plan. With point guard Mike Conley and defensive whiz Tony Allen hobbled by injuries, they decided to ride Gasol as long as possible.
And early on, it worked pretty darn well. The Grizzlies scored 36 points in the first quarter, the most they had scored in any quarter this year and, as the Thunder turned the ball over seven times, the Grizzlies built a lead as big as 11 points.
But in the second quarter, the Thunder opened with a 17-8 run that tied up the game. Durant scored 13 of his game-high 31 points in the quarter, and the Thunder took a three-point lead into halftime.
That lead ballooned quickly in the third quarter. A 10-2 Thunder run fueled by Durant and Caron Butler set a tone that the Grizzlies simply didn’t have the manpower to match.
“They were down a man, but they fought,” Brooks said. “But give our guys credit. We were prepared to play against whatever they were throwing at us, and I thought our guys did a good job.”
Now, the Thunder turns its attention to the second round. Game 1 will be Monday night at The Peake.
Is there any chance this next series could be as dramatic as what we just witnessed?
Sure seems unlikely, but word to the wise — stay tuned.