The Memphis Grizzlies are the most complete defensive team since the 2008 Boston Celtics, and their ability to slow the pace and frustrate shooters may bring them the same championship success.
Kevin Durant is the only matchup that favors Oklahoma City on the offensive end, and there isn't much Memphis can do to prevent him from getting his, or from taking over in the fourth quarter. We saw that in Game 1. But when he misses shots in the fourth quarter, like the two free throw misses with 39 seconds left in Game 3, the Grizzlies' D can almost guarantee a win. They can ride their methodical offense – led by the excellent play of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol – to victory.
Tony Allen continues to show why he is the best perimeter defender in the league. When combined with Tayshaun Prince – who would still be the top defensive option on many clubs – and Conley, Oklahoma City's guards don't have much chance of getting hot. Serge Ibaka's offensive struggles make Zach Randolph's job relatively easy.
Memphis maintained their home court advantage and Oklahoma City, now down 2-1 in the series, is running out of ideas. Reggie Jackson's 16 points might not come to the rescue again, and if Memphis can close out the Thunder, they'll be favored against either the Spurs or the Warriors for their ability to shut down the perimeter.
They'd have favorable matchups up and down the Miami Heat roster as well, should they meet in the Finals. Chicago proved a big and defensive team can beat the Heat, especially when the game gets physical. Though the Bulls possess a pseudo-toughness – using hard fouls and/or cheap shots to get Miami out of rhythm, depending on your allegiances – Memphis has the muscle and legit ability to shut down four positions on the court at one time.
It's that fifth position – the one Durant and LeBron James play – that may be their Achilles heal. Either are capable of winning series' by themselves.
If they can't, the Memphis Grizzlies will be happy to ride their defense to an NBA title.