Despite the injury to Russell Westbrook, the Thunder topped Memphis Sunday and has taken a 1-0 series lead into a crucial Game 2 Tuesday night. OKC used a clutch performance by Kevin Durant and timely defensive stops to earn the win Sunday and will look for a repeat performance Tuesday night.
Here are some numbers to know for Game 2:
1. Third World of Hurt
Much has been made about the Thunder's poor third quarters. Here's exactly how bad it is:
Thunder's scoring average per quarter (Five games without Westbrook)
Defensive points allowed per quarter (Five games without Westbrook)
What to take from those numbers is mostly positive. The Thunder is outscoring its opponent in three of the four quarters and is especially dominant in the fourth. But, they're getting whopped in the third. Here's how it breaks down:
Scoring differential (average) by quarter:
Five games without Westbrook
Oklahoma City would greatly improve its chances if it can find some way to stop getting clobbered in the third quarter. Perhaps Scott Brooks needs to continue to toy with the lineup or maybe the guys on the floor need to step up. But the third quarter is currently OKC's weak point.
2. Lacking a Serge
With no more Westbrook, the Thunder has done a good job of finding points in other places. Reggie Jackson has stepped in nicely and Kevin Martin appears to have found his shooting touch, but OKC needs more from its budding All-Star, Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka's last three games against Memphis:
• 22 minutes: 4 points, 7 rebounds, 2-5 shooting.
• 26 minutes: 4 points, 1 rebound, 2-3 shooting.
• 29 minutes: 5 points, 5 rebounds, 1-10 shooting.
That averages to just 4.3 points and 4.3 rebounds on 27.7 percent shooting. Those numbers are far below his season averages of 13.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 57 percent shooting.
Oklahoma City isn't going to win this series unless Ibaka finds a way to become more effective.
3. The Peake of Excellence
Sunday's Game-1 win continued a pretty impressive streak for Oklahoma City. Since moving to OKC, the Thunder has hosted seven Game 1's. OKC is now 6-1 in those 7 games, with only loss coming to Memphis in 2011. They have won their past five.
The news is just as good for Game 2. The Thunder is also 5-1 hosting Game 2's, with the only loss coming to Miami in the NBA Finals last season. OKC will look to make it 6-1 on Tuesday.
4. The Tuesday Special
We all know how the Grizzlies like to play; rough and rugged. Memphis slows it down and pounds the ball inside, resulting in a lower scoring average than most NBA teams. The Grizz averaged 93.4 points per game in regular season and 95.3 points per game against OKC.
But here's the odd part. Memphis averaged 101.2 points on Tuesdays this year – an enormous jump. It might have some meaning or it could just be anomaly, but as you're well-aware, Game 2 is, well, Tuesday.
If it makes any Thunder fans feel better, Memphis averaged a lowly 91.7 points on Saturdays (Game 3).
By the way, if you're interested, the Thunder averaged 105.1 points on Tuesdays and 111.8 points on Saturdays.