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May 5, 2013

Grizzly matchup awaits Thunder second round

OKLAHOMA CITY — For six games, NBA fans who watched Oklahoma City and Houston were treated to an up tempo series, marked by high flying offense. Three-pointers were raining down and each game at least one team topped the century mark. It was exactly the type of product league officials want to see.

Those days will soon be a distant memory. The Western Conference semifinal between Oklahoma City and Memphis will be the opposite of the Thunder’s first round series. Yet, it should be just as dramatic.

“It’s definitely going to be a different style of play,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “We have to flip the switch quickly. They play possession by possession with maximum effort. We are the same way. We understand it’s going to be a very physical game.”

When Oklahoma City and Memphis hooked up during the regular season, they were games in which the final scores did not tell the entire story. The

Grizzlies won the series 2-1.

However, it was the teams first encounter Nov. 14 that provides the best indication of exactly what type of series fans can expect. Memphis won 107-97 and the game was marked by five technical fouls, two ejections and a locker room altercation between Kendrick Perkins and Zach Randolph.

Even though that game was almost six months ago, it set the tone for what is to come.

“That’s in their DNA,” Kevin Durant said. “That’s what they do and that’s what we do.

Guys are going to go out there pushing and shoving. It’s going to be a really physical series. That’s what both teams do. We hang our hats on being a physical team.”

Since that first matchup, both teams have gone through drastic changes. Memphis traded their leading scorer Rudy Gay to Toronto and brought back the more defensively-minded Tayshaun Prince in return.

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