Without Russell Westbrook, things just seem to come too difficult for the Thunder. But if the Thunder lumberjacks can neutralize Memphis' hard hats to some degree, we'll have a competitive series.
“Definitely going to be a different style of play,” said Scotty Brooks. “You have to flip the switch quickly. They play different than the last series.
“That's playoff basketball. You have to be able to play against different styles of play. You have to have that within your own game. And we have that. You can't play every round one style. That just doesn't happen.”
The difference between the Rockets and the Grizzlies is the difference between a Phoenix summer and a Green Bay winter. The difference between a Niekro knuckler and a Feller fastball.
The Rockets flooded the court with 3-point shooters. The Grizzlies flood the court with biker-bar bouncers, even on the perimeter, where Tony Allen would get my vote for NBA player most likely to survive an alley fight.
So while Perkins was largely useless against Houston, and Collison and Ibaka couldn't be used together, they've all got to play against Memphis. Play well and play a bunch.
The Grizzlies will pound the ball into Randolph on the low block. The Thunder has to make him catch it 12 feet from the basket instead of eight feet from the basket. That's the difference between winning and losing.
The Grizzlies will run their offense through Gasol on the high post, and the 7-footer will lumber down to the basket for rebounds or passes. The Thunder can't let him get there.
Perkins and Collison, mostly, but Ibaka, too, have to stand sentry. They've got to wrestle the bears and live to tell about it. They've got to win the paint for the Thunder to advance.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.