By Randy Renner
The big news in this series started coming to light early this morning. Grizzlies backup point guard Nick Calathes has been suspended for 20 games by the NBA for testing positive for a banned substance.
"We've had a lot of adversity all season long and now we've got to step up our games," said Memphis head coach Dave Joerger after his team's shootaround today. "It's an NBA deal and that's where we have to leave it."
Calathes averaged 4.9 points during the regular season. He played in all four regular season games against the Thunder and averaged 4.0 ppg. He will be replaced by recently acquired point guard Beno Udrih. "He does some things better (than Calathes) and some things not as well," Joerger said of Udrih.
- The Thunder were 6-4 in the last 10 games of the regular season, the Grizzlies were 7-3, including five straight wins to close out the regular season.
- OKC won the season series between the teams 3-1. Two games were low scoring and two were high scoring. The Grizzlies lone win was one of the low scoring games (90-87 in Memphis). That was Grizz center Marc Gasol's first game back from a knee injury. Memphis is 33-13 with Gasol back in the lineup after the injury (40-19 overall this season with Gasol).
- Oklahoma City is 20-4 with it's regular starting five on the floor. "I'm excited to have everybody healthy," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks told reporters before the game and then he added, "there are no minutes restrictions on anyone."
- In last season's Thunder-Grizzlies playoff series Memphis routinely threw double and triple teams at Kevin Durant. That tactic was especially effective because the Thunder didn't have Russell Westbrook, who had suffered his season-ending knee injury in the previous series. Any time Westbrook missed a game this season Durant also saw a heavy dose of double teams. "He's seen it all and he's done a really great job of finding open teammates and that helps our offense," said Brooks. "We want teams to double him, that helps guys get open shots."
- Westbrook played in just two of the four regular season games and averaged 24 points and 7.5 assists per game.
- Durant averaged 31.0 points against the Grizzlies on 51.8 percent shooting, but when Tayshaun Prince was guarding him Durant saw his shooting numbers drop to 40 percent.
- The Thunder came back to win 14 of the 31 games they trailed by 10 points or more. That winning percentage of .452 led the NBA and was more than twice the league average (.214).
- Only 17.1 percent of the Grizzlies shots in the regular season were 3-pointers, the lowest rate in the NBA.
Tipoff tonight will come right around 8:45 because it is the second game of ESPN's playoff double-header tonight. You can also see it on Fox Sports Oklahoma.