Tahlequah Daily Press


May 4, 2013

Thunder, Grizzlies set to square off again



No. 1 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (60-22, 4-2) vs. No. 5 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (56-26, 4-2)

Season series:
Grizzlies, 2-1. Oklahoma City's only win in the series came in the Grizzlies' first game after trading away leading scorer Rudy Gay and before Tayshaun Prince and their other acquisitions arrived. Memphis won 107-97 on the Thunder's home court in November and 90-89 in their own gym in March on Marc Gasol's tip-in at the overtime buzzer. There were nine technical fouls called in the three games, and that was just a hint of the hostility between these teams.

Story line: The Thunder managed to make it into the second round after losing All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook to a knee injury that will keep him out for the rest of the playoffs. Now, they must face Memphis, which has been emerging as a chief rival since the teams met in an epic seven-game series two years ago in the West semifinals. That series featured one triple-overtime game and another with a single overtime before Westbrook produced a triple-double in Oklahoma City's Game 7 win.

Key Matchup I: Kendrick Perkins vs. Zach Randolph. These two don't seem to like each other one bit. In the first meeting of the year, both were ejected for an on-court altercation, then ran into the back hallway of Chesapeake Energy Arena to continue it. Randolph was later fined for confronting Perkins outside the Thunder locker room. More importantly, the Thunder will depend on Perkins' post defense to slow Randolph, who has averaged 24.8 points during Memphis' current four-game winning streak.

Key Matchup II: Kevin Durant vs. Tony Allen/Prince. With Westbrook out, the Grizzlies could have the luxury of deploying both of their well-respected defenders at times against the league's second-leading scorer. Durant has averaged 35.5 points in the four games since Westbrook had surgery, and Oklahoma City still went just 2-2.

X-Factor: Reggie Jackson. After outlasting Chris Paul in the previous round, Memphis' Mike Conley would normally be prepping to face another All-Star, Westbrook. Instead, Jackson — a second-year point guard — is filling in. Westbrook averaged 19.3 points, 7.3 assists and 6.3 rebounds in the regular season against Memphis, and Jackson's ability to fill that void will go far in determining how the Thunder fare.

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Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
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