As we all know, these two teams with title aspirations are going at it head on today in the Western Conference Semi Finals. Of course the first typical question always arises, who will win this series ??? I will not make a pick on who will win, but I will inform you on each teams advantages over one another and let you make your own educated basketball decision on who will prevail and move on to the next round.
First we begin with the Memphis Grizzlies
1 Physicality- Memphis is a very physical team and they will bully/push a team around if they allow it to happen. Memphis usually dominates the boards and hurts teams in the paint area. They have possibly the best Big man duo at the 4 and 5 position in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Both these players have range, post moves, and can rebound. Zach will kill you in the paint area, he lacks athleticism but he makes up for it with his offensive awareness around the hoop he will find a way to impose his will and score in the paint and hits the offensive glass hard. Marc is more of a finesse player who can shoot like a guard and pass like the point guard, his defense is also good he anchors the Grizzlies interior and usually makes the right plays down the stretch.
2 A Floor General- Mike Conley is an excellent pg he has quickness, range, passing ability, and can hit the dagger. He is very underrated and some times overlooked due to playing along side Marc and Zach as well. He doesn’t really get as much credit as he should for what he does on the court. Against the flashy Clippers, he averaged 17 and 8 and constantly put pressure on Chris Paul the best pg in the game to play defense on him wearing Cp3 out over the stretch. Mike scores well in transition. His quickness allows him to accelerate at high speeds to the rim and his finishing abilities allow him to make circus shots in traffic over other bigs in the paint area. He is also good at setting up the bigs for scoring opportunities and knows how to get the team in a scoring rhythm.
3 Defense- Memphis has a lot of speed and length on the perimeter and the DPOY in Marc Gasol monitoring the paint area waiting to make a play on the ball. Mike at the pg has speed and quickness and can stay in front of other top point guards in the league. Tony Allen is one of the top defensive players in the league. He is usually assigned to guard the opposing teams best offensive player, has speed and is very physical and can disrupt an offensive player and throw his rhythm off at any key time in the game. Tayshaun Prince at the 3 has height at 6’9 and long lanky arms he can contest shots from the perimeter with relative ease and has sufficient speed to hold his assignment in check. Zach is slightly below average on defense due to his lack of speed, however he has Marc behind him to help back him up on defense.
Now Oklahoma City Thunder
1 Kevin Durant- This man right here at 6’10, can shoot from anywhere on the court. He makes scoring look so easy, he scores in bunches, he can have only 15 after 3 quarters then end up with 40 for the game. Kd has height,length,quickness,handles, and range he can shoot far behind the three point line like its nothing. Shooting the basketball to him, is like shooting a layup. He is virtually unguardable by even the top tier defenders in this league. Guard him tight, he will hit you with a nasty crossover and blow by you and then dunk on the whole defense with his long frame. Sag off him, he will shoot on you from the perimeter and pile up points on you in a heart beat. He is also automatic from the the free throw line, so fouling him won’t help. He has also improved on his passing and hitting the open man behind the arc for the 3 pointer. Kevin Durant is deadly at the end of games, he is the last person you want with the ball with 2 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter of a tight game. He will take that shot and he will make that shot.
2 Serge Ibaka- At 6 ’10 Serge is so athletic, he is a game changer at the defensive side of the court. He can make shots attempted in the paint miss just by his pure presence alone. I’m sure when guards attack the rim, he strikes some type of fear in their eyes and they know he is going for the high light reel block. He has also extended his range and is a reliable jump shooter from the outside. His post moves have slightly improved as well. Since the Thunder don’t have Russell Westbrook he will have to step up and be more aggressive on the offensive end of the court.
3 Experience- This team has been through painful losses in previous post season stints and has been to the finals. They know how to play under pressure and know what to expect when the going gets tough. These players have Derek Fisher a proven veteran/warrior has won multiple championships with the Lakers and knows what it is like to be in this position. He is a clutch player as well as Durant and can drain big shots with the game on the line.