NORMAN — It’s the moment all athletes dream about. Playing in a decisive contest where the winner advances and the loser is sent home.
In the NBA playoffs, that means two words: Game 7. Which is what Oklahoma City finds itself in at 7 p.m. today when it faces Memphis at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Each Thunder player knows exactly what is at stake when they take the court.
“You have to just stay focused on the details and the things you can control,” Derek Fisher said. “That’s why coaches and your veteran players are on you about doing things a certain way, so that when you get to Game 7, it’s not about having to do something different or extraordinary or out of your character. It’s the way you’ve been doing it all season.”
The Thunder were focused in Game 6 when they blew out the Grizzlies by 20 on the road. With their season on the line, they played their most complete and under control game of the postseason.
“We started off the game physically and just played as hard as we could,” Kevin Durant said. “We just wanted to come out and play extremely hard.”
Oklahoma City will need to do the same thing tonight if it wants to knock out a Memphis team that will be licking its wounds from Thursday’s pummeling. But, it isn’t just emotional wounds making the Grizzlies limp into tonight’s game.
Friday the NBA announced it has suspended forward Zach Randolph for Game 7 due to a punch he threw to the jaw of Thunder rookie Steven Adams with 6:42 left in Game 6. The announcement came as a surprise to both teams since Randolph was called for only a simple foul during the game.
Randolph leads the Grizz with 18.2 points a game. He’s the first player to miss a Game 7 after leading his team in scoring in the series while playing in each of the first six games.