Thunder-Grizzlies: Zach Randolph's suspension means an epic series might end with a thud instead of a bang

All great series need a Game 7. But if a great series needs a great Game 7, this one might need to step aside. A series that began with a suspension — Grizzlies backup point guard Nick Calathes, for the NBA’s drug policy — reaches Game 7 with another.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 2, 2014

Add in the sore hamstring of Memphis point guard Mike Conley, and the Grizzlies bring a fife and bugle corps to OKC.

Seems like the only thing that could derail the Thunder now is complacency. And Kevin Durant, fresh off a slump-breaking Game 6, talks like a man who knows how to avoid relaxing. Fresh on Thunder minds is the sense of urgency with which they played in a 104-84 rout of the Grizzlies on Thursday night.

“It was definitely different from the tip,” Durant said. “We came out and knew our backs were against the wall. So we have to play like that in Game 7. We can’t just do that after a loss, we have to do that after a W as well. We have to come out with a lot of intensity, especially at home.”

Only two of the last 10 Game 7’s have been won by road teams — the Bulls won at Brooklyn last spring, and the Clippers won in Memphis in 2012. But Fisher warns that something strange is going on with homecourt advantage in the NBA playoffs. This postseason, going into Friday’s games, the road teams were 22-20.

“I think the game is changing a lot, and I think that’s why you’re seeing so many road teams winning game in the playoffs,” said Fisher, who has played in four Game 7’s. “That’s something you didn’t see with this type of frequency years ago. I think we all know what’s at stake; at the same time, whichever team is able to come out and play basketball as though it is just another game will be better able to settle in to who you are and what you need to do.”

But who the Grizzlies are, and what they need to do, revolves around Randolph, who they won’t have, and Conley, who is questionable. Thus a great and epic and historic series figures to end not with a bang, but with a thud, which the Thunder will be glad to take.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.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.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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