NBA Playoffs Picks: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder Game 5

2013 NBA Playoffs – Western Conference Semifinals Game #5
#5 Memphis Grizzlies at #1 Oklahoma City Thunder
Grizzlies Lead best of Seven Series 3-1
Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Opening Line: Oklahoma City -3 1/2
Current Line: Oklahoma City -4 1/2
Opening Total: 185
Current Total: 185
Opening Money Line: Thunder -175 / Grizzlies +155
Opening Money Line: Thunder -200 / Grizzlies +170

Kevin Durant and the Thunder look to stay alive at home in game 5 against the Grizzlies.
Kevin Durant and the Thunder look to stay alive at home in game 5 against the Grizzlies.

Just before the trade deadline, the Memphis Grizzlies traded leading scorer Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors in a cost cutting move. Many thought at the time, they were sacrificing a potential championship team in the wide open Western Conference. The Grizzlies would go on to win a franchise record 57 games.

Memphis is one game away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. The Grizzlies lead the #1 seed Oklahoma City Thunder 3-1 in the conference semifinals. Oklahoma City is playing without all-star point guard Russell Westbrook who is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery for a torn meniscus.

The Thunder won game one 93-91 in Oklahoma City. Memphis won the next 3 games in the series all by six points. In each game, neither team has been up by more than 2 points with 2 minutes remaining. Memphis won game two 99-93. The series switched to Memphis for games 3 and 4, where the Grizzlies have only lost 9 games all season. The Grizzlies would take game 3 87-81. In game 3, Oklahoma City jumped out to a 17 point lead in the second quarter. However, the Grizzlies would cut the lead down to 8 points at halftime 56-48.  In the second half the Grizzlies would rely on their tough defense that has been Memphis’s calling card all-season. Memphis would hold the Thunder to 38 second quarter points. The game would go into overtime and the Grizzlies would prevail 103-97. Memphis and OKC played each other in the 2011 Western Semifinals. In that series, Memphis was up 2-1 and took a huge lead on the road before the Thunder won in triple overtime to even the series. OKC would go on to win the series in 7 games. The Grizzlies made sure that didn’t happen this time.

The Thunder shot 43% from the field including 9 of 20 from 3 point range. The Grizzlies shot 40% from the field and made 6 of 17 free throws. Kevin Durant had 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. However, Durant only scored 5 points in the fourth quarter and overtime going 2 for 13 from the field. It was the third game in a row that Durant has struggled to score in the fourth. He has played at least 46 minutes in every game and appears to be wearing down having to shoulder most of the scoring load. He did get some help finally from his teammates though for really the first time this series. Kevin Martin, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson all scored at least 15 points. Memphis guard Mike Conley scored 24 points, and added 5 assists, 4 steals, and 3 rebounds. Center Marc Gasol scored 23 points along with 11 reboundsa nd 6 blocks. Forward Zach Randolph added 23 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists.

Memphis is coached by Lionel Hollins. Memphis is 55-35-2 ATS and the total is 37-53-1 this season. Memphis is outscoring teams 94-90 this season. They are first in the league in points allowed and are #26 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 44.4% from the field and 34.5% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #21 in field goal percentage and #24 in three point shooting. Memphis is #9 in the league in free throw shooting at 77.3% from the line. The Grizzlies average 42.6 rebounds per game and give up 39. Memphis is #1 in rebounds allowed and #12 in rebounding. Grizzlies’ opponents are  shooting 43.7% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. Memphis is #3 in both categories. The Grizzlies average 20.9 assists, 8.6 steals, 5.3 blocks and 13.2 turnovers a game.

In the playoffs, forward Zach Randolph averages 20.8 points, 8 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.7 assists per game. Randolph dominated the last 4 games against the Clippers scoring at least 23 points in each game. Point Guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 17.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 8.3 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. Center Marc Gasol averages 17.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, a steal, and 1.7 blocks per game. Forward Tayshawn Prince was acquired from the Detroit Pistons in the Rudy Gay trade. Prince is probable with a hip injury. He is averaging 8.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game in the playoffs.  Tony Allen starts at shooting guard and is one of the best defenders in the league. Allen averages 12 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Point guard Jerryd Bayless, forward Quincy Pondexter, forward Darrell Arthur, guard Tony Wroten, and forwards Ed Davis and Austin Daye  make up the rest of the rotation.

Oklahoma City is coached by Scott Brooks. The Thunder are 52-38-2 ATS and the total is 40-50-2 this season. Oklahoma City is outscoring teams 106-97 this season. The Thunder are #3 in scoring and #9 in points allowed. OKC is shooting 48.1% from the field and 37.7% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #3 in both categories. Oklahoma City leads the league in free throw shooting at 82.8%. The Thunder average 43.6 rebounds per game and give up 40.7 per game. They are #6 in both rebounding and rebounds allowed. OKC opponents are shooting 42.5% from the field and 34.6% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #2 in opponents’ field goal percentage, and #6 in three point defense. Oklahoma City averages 21.4 assists, 8.3 steals, 7.6 blocks, and 14.6 turnovers per game.

In the playoffs, forward Kevin Durant averages 32.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1 block per game. Durant lost the scoring title in the regular season to Knicks’ forward Carmelo Anthony by six tenths of a point. Guard Russell Westbrook averaged 24 points, 6.5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals per game before the injury. Second year guard Reggie Jackson will start in place of Westbrook for the playoffs. He is averaging 14 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. Guard Kevin Martin averages 13.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. Martin was acquired in the James Harden trade. Forward Serge Ibaka averages 13 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. Guard Thabo Sefolosha averages 6.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Nick Collison, Ronnie Brewer, Kendrick Perkins, and Hasheem Thabeet make up the rest of the rotation. The Thunder signed veteran point guard Derek Fisher late in the regular season for the playoff run. He is averaging 8.2 points per game.

Memphis is 8-0 ATS after a cover, 7-0 against Northwest teams, 6-0 after a straight up win, and after scoring 100 points or more, 4-0 in conference semifinal games, in road games and against teams with winning home records, 10-1 against teams with winning records, 9-1-1 on one day rest, 16-4-1 overall. 15-5-1 against Western Conference teams, and 5-2 after the opponent allows 100 points or more. The Grizzlies have covered 9 straight games including all four in this series. The road team is 8-3 ATS in the last 11 in this series. Memphis is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 trips to OKC.

Oklahoma City is 18-7-1 ATS after allowing 100 points or more, 14-6 after a straight up loss, 2-5 after the opponent  scores 100 points or more, 1-4 after failing to cover, 1-6 on one day rest, 0-4 at home, in conference semifinal games, against teams with winning records, overall, against Western Conference teams and against Southwest teams. The over is 16-7 overall in this series and 20-6 in Oklahoma City.

It isn’t like the Thunder are getting blown out in every game. They have had a chance to win every game, and just haven’t executed down the stretch. Durant is trying to do too much and is exhausted by the end of the game. I think the Thunder ride the emotion of their frenzied home crowd and force game 6 Friday night in Memphis.

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