One of the best Round 1 playoff series the NBA will see this year tips off tonight at 9:30pm EST / 6:30pm PST when the Oklahoma City Thunder host the Memphis Grizzlies in Chesapeake Energy Arena. The OKC Thunder took the season series 3-1, with their lone loss to the Grizzlies coming while Russell Westbrook was out of the lineup. Westbrook may be back now, but Memphis has been a thorn in OKC’s side for quite some time, setting the stage for a duel not often seen in a No. 2 vs. No. 7 series. You can watch the Oklahoma City Thunder – Memphis Grizzlies live stream Game 1 using any number of services.
There are plenty of reasons to tune in live tonight on ESPN. Chief among them is to see how the high-octane Thunder handle the grind-it-out game of Zach Randolph and the Grizzlies during the 2014 NBA postseason. In the regular season Randolph averaged 16.5 points against the Thunder, though Grizzlies forward Marc Gasol was no slouch himself. Although the Grizzlies have Mike Conley and Mike Miller in the backcourt to keep the shots flowing, Memphis’ game begins and ends down low.
Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins has certainly seen that show before, but he’s never done too much to shut it down. Fortunately, the Thunder have likely 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant to balance things out, and Russell Westbrook will be in uniform as well.
Westbrook’s presence in tonight’s OKC Thunder game is vital to keeping the Grizzlies at bay. In addition to the Thunder’s lone loss against the Grizzlies this season coming with Westbrook out, the last time these teams met in the playoffs Westbrook was also out. And the Thunder lost.
That playoff series came just last year, in the 2013 Western Conference semifinals. With Westbrook watching from the sidelines, OKC lost the series 3-2 to Memphis, who then pushed the San Antonio Spurs to the brink. Although the Spurs beat the Grizzlies and went on to the NBA Finals, their loss wasn’t sufficient justice for the fuming Thunder.
Tonight’s Grizzlies game presents a true opportunity for revenge. And with Westbrook on the floor, OKC expects to get it for tonight’s Game 1 and, eventually, with a first-round whooping of the team that knocked them out last season.
Durant aside, the Thunder’s biggest reason for optimism lies in the late-season return of Westbrook. Having returned after the All-Star break, Westbrook actually played some of the best basketball of his career during the second half of the season. Since Feb. 20, he’s averaged 22.3 points, 6.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 46% from the field. Lost among those stats: it’s all happened in just 28 minutes per game.
Tonight’s NBA Western Conference first-round series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies tips off at 9:30pm EST / 6:30pm PST. It’s sure to be a showdown, and a great way to start what could be one of the NBA’s best Round 1 playoff series.
The game will be broadcast live on ESPN for those who have that channel as part of their local cable or satellite package and want to watch the Round 1 playoff game in HD. Otherwise you can watch the Oklahoma City Thunder – Memphis Grizzlies live stream game 1 on ESPN3, the live online streaming counterpart for ESPN. It’s also available through the ESPN mobile app, if you’re on a phone or tablet, and via the ESPN app on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. These streaming options do require that you to subscribe to ESPN. If you don’t, you can also watch tonight’s hawks-pacers game online via the NBA channel of Justin.tv, though we aren’t big fans of that spotty service.