By Randy Renner
The Memphis Grizzlies got even more bad news today, Tony Allen, who has hounded Kevin Durant all series long, did not participate in shootaround and was seen leaving the arena with medical type sunglasses because of migraine symptoms
The Grizzlies are already without leading scorer and rebounder Zach Randolph who was suspended for Game 7 by the NBA yesterday for punching Thunder center Steven Adams toward the end of Game 6.
Point guard Mike Conley is suffering from a strained right hamstring and how much he can play tonight and how effective he'll be is very much in question.
Memphis began this first round playoff series hearing the news that backup point guard Nick Calathes had been suspended for 20 games by the NBA for testing positive for a banned substance.
So the Grizz will go into tonight's do-or-die game with the Thunder without at least one of their key players and maybe three of them.
Durant warned today at OKC's shootaround his team cannot afford to go to sleep on the Grizzlies, even if they are short-handed.
"This is still a very good team across the board, they have guys they can plug in so we've gotta stay focused," he said. "It's easy to relax when they got some of their best players either hurt or out of the game so we've gotta make sure we don't relax. From the tip we've got to be excited and ready to hit these guys early."
It will probably be easy to see from the start what kind of attitude the Thunder will bring. Slow and sluggish at the beginning will send a bad message that the game could end up being another dogfight. Taking the fight to the Grizz with energy and passion may deliver a kockout punch.
Durant knows he's the man who will trigger that start.
"Yeah, I do feel that responsibility that I have to do it and I will do it as far as coming out and playing as hard as I can. We can't let the game come to us we have to go and take it."
The Thunder should have and were expected to play like that in Game 5, coming back home after a win in Memphis in Game 4. Most thought the Thunder would take control with a big effort in Game 5, instead they fell flat and the Grizzlies were the ones who seized control of the series.
Now that the Thunder have things back to even but with their backs still against the wall, there's no question they should come out firing on all cylinders.
"I have to be better in that area to start the game," Durant said. "Just learning from Game 5 and Game 6 coming out with that energy really helps my team."
Thunder rookie center Steven Adams said he was surprised at Randolph's suspension.
"Yeah, I just thought it was an off ball foul and carried on playing."
Adams didn't react like someone typically would after being slugged in the jaw, though replays clearly showed that's exactly what happened. Adams said he didn't even realize it at the time.
"Yeah, I was just trying to focus on what play we had called, my mind's really slow sometimes and doesn't process stuff straight away, so that helps," he deadpanned.
In fact Adams is actually a big Z-Bo fan and is a bit disappointed he won't be playing.
"I was surprised that he got taken out, I'm a big fan of his to be honest with you because he's real smart with how he plays. So it's unfortunate."
Most Thunder fans probably don't quite share that attitude but that's Adams for you, unflappable and ready to take on all comers.
Just how Memphis head coach Dave Joerger will adjust his lineup is up in the air. At Grizzlies shootaround he just said he has a few options he's considering. A lot will depend of course on Conley and Allen's availability, if neither of them can go Joerger's options will be extremely limited and so will the Grizzlies chances of pulling the upset.