Kevin Durant has played well against the Grizzlies in the first two games – 69 points on 47 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent shooting on 3-pointers. The perception is that Tony Allen of Memphis has done a terrific job defensively against the NBA’s best offensive player. Durant missed 16 of 28 shots in an overtime Game 2 loss, and Allen was hounding Durant much of the night. Sure, Allen has been disruptive, often grabbing Durant and refusing to let him get the ball, and taking him out of rhythm offensively. Still, Allen’s defensive impact seems a tad overblown. When asked about it recently, Durant paused for five seconds and said:
“He’s good,” Durant said. “He’s good at dodging screens. He’s physical. Everybody plays the same way with me, though.”
When asked about Allen a few minutes later, a more agitated Durant again paused before responding.
“It’s not like I’m just totally getting locked down. He’s making it tough. It’s not like I’m just non-existent. I don’t know what you guys have been watching. He’s just making me work, like everybody else will.”
Allen has long been a defensive standout, and he’s certainly a nuisance on the court. But I’m surprised more of the media’s focus hasn’t been on:
a) Russell Westbrook’s three-point shooting: 1-of-12 with more bad shots than he’ll admit
b) Disappearance of reserve Reggie Jackson, who averaged 13.1 ppg on 28 mpg during the regular season but has 11 points on 1-of-10 shooting in two games
The Thunder were crushed in the backcourt by Mike Conley and Courtney Lee in Game 2 (combined: 13-for-25 shooting, 35 points, 13 assists, two turnovers). If Westbrook and Jackson aren’t able to turn that around Thursday in Memphis, Oklahoma City is going to be in serious trouble. The Conley/Lee combo found its groove in the second half of Game 1, and the Grizzlies went with three guards (Allen was the other) and two bigs heavily in Game 2.
Scott Brooks doesn’t have to worry about Kevin Durant’s offense or Tony Allen – he’s got to find a way to get the Westbrook/Jackson/Thabo trio working efficiently on the offensive end. The problem is, one of those guys does nothing offensively, and the two others need the ball in their hands.
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