Grizzlies-Thunder: Who Should Mavs Fans Be Rooting For?
While the Mavs were sleeping last night, they might have won another playoff game. How's that?
Because over in Memphis the Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder played only the sixth triple-overtime game in NBA playoff history. On the heels of Saturday's overtime win by Memphis, OKC survived last night's marathon thriller, 133-123.
End result: With the Mavs resting in the wake of a their shocking sweep of the Lakers, their opponent in the Western Conference Finals is locked in a grueling, exhausting series tied at 2-2.
Play on, boys. Play on.
If the Grizzlies-Thunder series goes to a Game 7, the Mavs will host Game 1 of the West Finals Tuesday at 8 p.m. If it ends in six, the Mavs start the West Finals Sunday afternoon at 2:30.
The Thunder got 40 points (on 33 shots) by point guard Russell Westbrook and 35 from NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant, while the Grizzlies blew an 18-point lead on their home court despite 34 points and 16 rebounds from Zach Randolph and a 26-21 night from Pau Gasol's brother, Marc.
The teams play contrasting styles. Which makes for a fascinating series, and an intriguing opponent for Dallas.
The Thunder win with youth and athleticism, led by Westbrook and Durant. Westbrook is the aggressive, penetrating type of shoot-first point guard -- like Chris Paul -- who has given Jason Kidd fits in the recent past. Westbrook's decision-making is wacko at times, however; he, not Durant, took two overtime-ending shots last night and somehow the league's leading scorer went a stretch of 9 1/2 minutes without a shot attempt.
The Grizzlies are an old-school inside-out team, anchored by an interior big tandem of Randolph/Gasol who made the Spurs' Tim Duncan look not just old, but decrepit.
Despite a 1-3 record against Memphis this season, I think the Grizzlies are the more favorable matchup. The Mavs lost two games at home to Memphis by a combined two points and dropped a game at the FedEx Forum in Dirk Nowitzki's first game back from his knee injury.
The Mavs were 2-1 against OKC, but both win wins came before Jan. 1 and Caron Butler's season-ending knee injury. Unlike Memphis, the Thunder have two scorers who can win playoffs games all by themselves.
Dallas, which will be heavily favored in either series, is in for two different scenarios. The Mavs' advantage against the Grizzlies would be depth; versus the Thunder, experience.
Lots of basketball to be played in these playoffs. The Mavs are only halfway to the finish line. But as we speak this morning, the leaders in the clubhouse are the Mavs and, yep, those Miami Heat.
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