NBA Playoffs Preview: #1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #5 Memphis Grizzlies

2013 NBA Playoffs – Western Conference Semifinals
#1 Oklahoma City Thunder vs #5 Memphis Grizzlies
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: (Odds Courtesy of Bovada) Grizzlies -135 / Thunder +115
Game #1, Sunday, May 5, 2013, 1:05 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Opening Line: Oklahoma City -3 1/2
Current Line: Oklahoma City -3
Opening Total: 184 1/2
Current Total: 186 1/2
Opening Money Line: Thunder -175 / Grizzlies +155
Current Money Line: Thunder -160 / Grizzlies +140

The Oklahoma City Thunder open the Western Conference Semifinals at home Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Oklahoma City Thunder open the Western Conference Semifinals at home Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Oklahoma City Thunder won 60 games in the regular season and were the #1 seed in the Western Conference. However, they lost All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook to a torn meniscus for the rest of the post-season. Westbrook suffered the injury in the second game of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the #8 Houston Rockets led by former Thunder guard James Harden. Harden was traded to the rockets just days before the regular season started last November.  The Thunder would take a 3-0 series lead against the Rockets but couldn’t close out the series. The Rockets would win 2 straight games before the Thunder won game 6 in Houston Friday night 103-94 to close it out. Next up for the Thunder is the #5 Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals which get underway Sunday in Oklahoma City.

The Grizzlies won a franchise record 56 games and were 2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division. The Grizzlies traded away leading scorer Rudy Gay in the middle of the season in a cost saving move.  The Grizzlies were the #5 seed in the West and played the #4 Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. The Clippers won the first two games of the series in LA, but the Grizzlies would win 4 straight games including 118-105 in game six in Memphis  Friday night.

Memphis won 2 of the 3 meetings between the teams this season. The Grizzlies won 107-97 in Memphis November 14. In that game Memphis forward Zach Randolph and Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins had to separated by arena security after both were ejected late in the game and got into an altercation by the locker rooms. The Grizzlies lost at Oklahoma City January 31 106-89 when they were shorthanded after the Gay trade and were waiting on the pieces they acquired to arrive. The Grizzlies won 90-89 in overtime March 20 in Memphis. The Grizzlies and Thunder played a memorable 7 game series in the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals, after the #8 seeded Grizzlies had upset the #1 Spurs in the first round. In that series Oklahoma City won in seven bruising games.

Memphis is coached by Lionel Hollins. Memphis is 51-35-2 ATS and the total is 36-51-1 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 208 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. 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 52-34-2 ATS and the total is 38-48-2 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 5-0 ATS overall, against teams with winning records, against Western Conference teams, on one day rest, and after scoring 100 points or more. 4-0 after a cover, 5-1-1 against teams with winning home records, 4-1 after a win, in road games against Northwest teams, 3-1-1 after a straight up win of 10 points or more, 5-2 after allowing 100 points or more, and 5-2 in Sunday games, and 5-2-1 after the opponent scores 100 points or more. The road team has covered 6 of the last 7 in this series. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 in this series.

Oklahoma City is 4-1-1 ATS in Conference semifinal games, 7-2 against teams with winning road records, 19-7-1 in Sunday games, 21-10-1 against Southwest teams, 46-22-3 against Western Conference teams, 2-5 after the opponent allowed over 100 points, and after scoring 100 points or more, 1-4 after a straight up win,  and 1-5 at home. The over is 20-8 overall and 20-7 in Oklahoma City.

If you think the Grizzlies are going to win the series, you will probably take the 3 points in game one. Durant has had to shoulder most of the scoring load since Westbrook went down. He could get away with it against a bad defensive team like the Rockets, but against the rugged Grizzlies’ defense he definitely needs help from Jackson, Sefalosha, Ibaka, the ageless Fisher and the rest of the bench. Oklahoma City also has no answer on defense for Conley without Westbrook. Perkins and Ibaka should be able to defend Randolph and Gasol down low. still I like the Grizzlies to win in six games without Westbrook. This will be a very physical series.

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