Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 5/15/13
Nba_thunder_vs_c3e3
Who is Batman without Robin?  He may still be “Batman” but he isn’t going to get the mission accomplished without his much needed sidekick.  We are now seeing the true impact that Russell Westbrook has on this OKC team.  As long as Westbrook is with Durant, he will be thought of as the second guy.  But Russell Westbrook is unquestionably a superstar talent that the Thunder can’t live without. The absence of Westbrook is a gift for the Grizzlies because he torched them in the 2011 conference semi-finals.  The Grizzlies are probably the better team from top-to-bottom even with Westbrook in the mix.  Durant has gotten considerable help from Reggie Jackson but Jackson just isn’t Westbrook.  That isn’t Jackson’s fault.  It’s just a gap that OKC has in it’s roster. There is no question that Memphis strives from their post game, both offensively and defensively.  Zach Randolph has been a punishing presence in the post on offense.  Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol, has backed up his award and held his ground in the post on defense.  OKC matches that duo with two very good defenders in Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.  However, they have not been able to match Randolph and Gasol by any means. The Thunder absolutely needed those two to have a competitive battle with Randolph and Gasol.  Not only is Gasol a tremendous defensive player, but he’s also a very good offensive player.  Perkins prefers to stick near the basket on defense but Marc Gasol is very comfortable stepping out and hitting a short jumper.  Ibaka is one of the league’s best shot blockers but Randolph is great at using his body to create separation. At times, Marc Gasol doesn’t need to carry as much weight on defense.  He often just needs to box out and make sure his team secures a rebound.  That is because Memphis’ perimeter defense has also been stellar.  Tony Allen welcomes the challenge of guarding one of the league’s most lethal scorers in Kevin Durant.  Tayshaun Prince also covers Durant for some of the game.  The two have done a fantastic job of forcing the ball out of Durant’s hands. When Kevin Durant does have to deliver for his team, it is usually a highly difficult shot that few players can get off.  Durant is getting few easy looks each game as a result of Lionel Hollins’ defensive scheme.  Grizzlies’ defenders help out after Durant’s explosive first step to prevent him from getting an easy look.  Unfortunately for the Thunder, Durant is not surrounded with many perimeter shooters.  Derek Fisher is an exception but the Grizzlies have managed to quickly close out on him.  Kevin Martin is a very good shooter but he often likes to score off the dribble Let’s not forget the way Mike Conley has led this team.  After doing a great job dueling Chris Paul, Conley is clearly the better point guard in this series.  Conley has improved tremendously over the last year or so.  He is using his experience and IQ to present problems for the young Reggie Jackson.  Conley’s outside shooting, something he isn’t particularly known for, has been on par. Superstar, Kevin Durant, is simply being asked to do too much for this team.  The Grizzlies are too deep and talented of a team to suffer from Durant’s heroics.  Durant is a phenomenal player and one of the faces of this league but he can’t take this tough Grizzlies team by himself.  To wrap it up, the Oklahoma City have 99 problems but Kevin Durant isn’t one.   Follow me on Twitter @ZJTbasketball11
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best basketball players never to play in the NBA
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Leicester City put up three goals in first 20 minutes against Manchester City

Houston regent: Lane Kiffin ‘was not a safe hire’

Adam Jones takes a shot at Terrelle Pryor

Jeff Fisher, Les Snead deny ‘toxic’ relationship reports

‘Field of Dreams’ 24-diamond complex clears final hurdle, will build on site from film

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Dorial Green-Beckham fined for wearing non-charity Yeezy cleats

Chargers GM won’t commit to Mike McCoy’s return in 2017

Report: Police close to arresting Matt Barnes for alleged assault

Carmelo: Cryptic Instagram posts were about Phil Jackson

DeMarcus Cousins trade rumors won’t go away

NFL folks think Jabrill Peppers ‘more hype than substance'?

Winners, losers and what is still pending from baseball's 2016 Winter Meetings

The best (and worst) times athletes hosted 'SNL'

Why UCLA's Lonzo Ball is the most interesting player in college hoops

The NBA goes courtside to curbside: Drinks and rides for discerning fans

Five teams on upset alert in NFL Week 14

CFB Crash Course, Graduation: Final grades and awards

NHL All-Star Game fans are in search of another John Scott

Box Score 12/9: Carey Price has had enough of your nonsense

MLB Winter Meetings, Day 4: News, notes and rumors

Matt Ryan is now Mr. Pick-Two

Ten most significant developments of the NBA season

Sporting life: Gifts for the fan who is always on point

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Winners, losers and what is still pending from the 2016 Winter Meetings

Why UCLA's Lonzo Ball is the most interesting player in college hoops

The NBA goes courtside to curbside: Drinks and rides for discerning fans

CFB Crash Course, Graduation: Final grades and awards

The five best (and worst) times athletes hosted 'SNL'

NHL All-Star Game fans are in search of another John Scott

Sporting life: Gifts for the fan who is always on point

Matt Ryan is now Mr. Pick-Two

MLB Winter Meetings, Day 4: News, notes and rumors

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker