NBA Playoffs predictions 2014: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies

USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies knocked the Thunder out of the playoffs last season. This year, the Thunder are healthy and looking for revenge.

SB Nation 2014 NBA Playoff Bracket

Is this the year that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook break through to win their first NBA title? If it is, they'll have to go through an incredibly tough Memphis Grizzlies team first. Oklahoma City narrowly edged the Los Angeles Clippers for the second-best record in the Western Conference, while Memphis beat the Dallas Mavericks on the final night of the regular season to secure the seventh seed.

By winning that last game of the season, the Grizzlies avoided playing the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Instead, they'll get to play Durant, the man who led the league in scoring and will likely be named the 2013-14 NBA MVP. And although Memphis eliminated the Thunder last season, OKC will have a healthy Westbrook this time around. I've heard of this Westbrook character. He's pretty good at basketball.

This is going to be one hell of a series. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will be battling down low with Kendrick Perkins, Steven Adams, and Serge Ibaka. Tony Allen and Mike Conley will have to try to contain Westbrook and Durant on the perimeter. In the Western Conference, any team could win any series and I wouldn't be surprised.

The picks:

Paul Flannery Thunder in 6
Mike Prada Thunder in 6
Ricky O'Donnell Thunder in 7
Doug Eberhardt Thunder in 7
Tom Ziller Thunder in 5
Welcome to Loud City Thunder in 7
Grizzly Bear Blues Grizzlies in 7


My pick

As noted above, this isn't going to be the same series as last year. Russell Westbrook makes an enormous difference and introduces an entirely new element for Memphis' rock-solid defense to handle. I just don't see how the Grizzlies are going to muster enough offense to keep up with Durant and Westbrook, and they can't put four guys on Durant like they did last year. Randolph and Gasol will do some damage and leave some bruises, but OKC is moving on. OKC in 5.

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