The Oklahoma City Thunder Rout the Grizzlies In Game 7 105-90. The Thunder Advance to the Western Conference Finals.
After his poor shooting performance in game six Kevin Durant put on a performance in game seven that is the stuff of legends. Durant was aggressive and Russell Westbrook helped. Westbrook looked for the pass and was able to set Durant up with a back door passes that led to layups and dunks. Durant scored 39 points on 13 of 25 shooting. Russell Westbrook also had a tremendous game. He had a triple-double, the first one in a game seven since Sottie Pipen back in 1992, including several possession saving offensive rebounds. The Grizzlies, who rely on their bigs for points, played a good game. Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley played really well but, Memphis is a team that needs everyone to pitch in and they got absolutely nothing from their bench. The Memphis bench scored 22 points. The OKC bench scored 32 points, 17 points of which came from James Harden.
Oklahoma City had the kind of game that made it look like they should have had this series wrapped up a long time ago. This was a close series obviously but the Thunder made it look bad. The Grizzlies seemed powerless to stop Durant or anybody else on the floor. Defensively OKC locked up and Memphis couldn’t get things going in the paint, especially in the second half of the game. If the Grizzlies had a player who could get his own shot from just about anywhere on the floor they might have stood a chance, however Rudy Gay was wearing street clothes. This is one of the greatest series in recent playoff history. All of these games were good games and the Grizzlies played their hearts out. Zach Randolph had 17 points on 6 of 15 shooting but it looked like he could have gotten a little bit more help from Gasol. Gasol had 12 points on 4 of 10 shooting. O.J. Mayo was consistently beaten by James Harden who beat him off the dribble and was sticking jumpers in his face.
The Thunder are going be tough out for Dallas. If you read my poorly and hastily written western conference preview you would have seen that I picked Oklahoma City to win it. Their combination of youth, speed, and range when shooting I think gives the the edge. The Thunder are a better match up for Dallas than the Lakers were.
The Bulls Stampede the Heat 103-82. Chicago leads series 1-0.
The Bulls and Heat seemed to match up evenly. Derrick Rose started the game with some bad turnovers but after he settled down the Bulls were able to get some thing going offensively. Offense for Chicago is almost entirely directed to the defense they played. The match up of Taj Gibson and Lebron James was an amazing one. Taj kept Lebron from getting any steam and charging into the lane and even blocked him a couple of times. The advantage of the Bulls is their bigs played really well. Noah, Boozer, and Asik dominated the inside on both ends of the floor.
If you go out and get a Taj Gibson poster Dwayne Wade will be in it. Gibson made big time plays and even though he only scored 9 points the difference in hustle between him and Lebron was obvious. Hell, the difference in hustle between the entire Bulls team and the entire Heat team was not only a glaring mismatch but might possibly be the biggest indicator of how this series is going to go.
Derrick Rose had a good game after his slow start, he scored 28 points on 10 of 22 shooting and he had 6 assists. Rose had a little bit of trouble with the double team early on. It’s similar to the one used on him by the Pacers and the Hawks but because the Heat are so much more athletic any mistakes he made turned into points for Miami. Derrick allowed his teammates to beat the double team for him. Luol Deng took advantage of Miami defensive break downs and scored himself 21 points. Boozer and Noah had 14 points and 9 points respectively.
Miami came out and laid an egg offensively. After those first points off of turnovers they had from Derrick Rose’s earlier mistakes they didn’t really do anything. Lebron and Dwayne had trouble finding a rhythm. Lebron had just 15 points and Dwayne Wade had just 18 points. The real reason Miami ever had a chance in this game was none other than the third wheel himself, Chris Bosh, who scored 30 points whilst shooting 12 of 18 from the field and grabbing 9 rebounds. Bosh was aggressive early and was the only Heatle who played like he had any heart.
If the Heat allow themselves to be bullied by Chicago’s defense this series isn’t going to last very long.