Closeout Game? – Game 6 of Oklahoma City Thunder At Memphis Grizzlies Betting Preview

Oklahoma City Thunder AT Memphis Grizzlies
May 13, 2011 at 9 PM EST
Opening Line: MEM -2
Current Line: MEM -1.5
Opening Moneyline: MEM -140, OKC +120
Current Moneyline:  MEM -125, OKC +105
Opening Total:  195.5
Current Total: 195.5

Thunder Lead Series 3-2

Trail Blazers Thunder NBA Game Preview
Durant and the Thunder will look to close out the Grizzlies tonight in Memphis

Things are never pleasant in the locker room following a blowout loss.  Especially in the playoffs.  And the Memphis Grizzlies know that they can’t blame the refs, or anything out of their control; they just played badly.  The back court of Mike Conley and Tony Allen shot a combined 8 of 29 from the floor (27%) and their forwards, Zach Randolph and Sam Young were a combined 5 of 16 (31%).  The only Memphis players to shot 50% or greater from the field barely attempted any shots (Darrell Arthur 3 of 5 and Hamed Haddadi 2 of 4), with the exception being Marc Gasol (6 of 9 from the floor for 15 points).

Because of the fact that Game 4 was such a marathon, the starters for both teams played less minutes than usual, while bench players like O.J. Mayo (27 minutes) and James Harden (26 minutes) saw extended duty.  The Thunder had no one score more than 19 points (Durant), and yet they still won by 27 points.  That’s just a sign of effective defense and team play, nothing more and nothing less.

Mike Conley (4 of 16 from the floor) told reporters what Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins told them:

“He says this is where we find out who we are.  Find out the kind of people we are. The kind of players we are. You don’t know until your back is against the wall, and everything is up for grabs. This will be a good test for us.”

Hollins blamed poor execution and problems finishing for the loss, saying that if they made half the layups they missed it would have been 18 points and they would have been right back in the game.  But there’s a reason why players miss layups, and it isn’t all just a lack of concentration.  The Thunder have great interior defenders in Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins and both of them change a lot of shots and make sure people don’t get easy layups, even if it means fouling them hard to send them to the line.

Oklahoma City played enforcer against a Memphis team that seldom had problems scoring in the paint.  They have reduced Zach Randolph to shooting 18 foot fall away jumpers and even when he does square up it doesn’t seem he has the propensity to want to drive past defenders right now; he’s tired.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks realizes the difficulty of winning a game 6 on the road. “The close-out game in basketball is the hardest game to play because they’re going to give everything they have, and their crowd is going to get behind them,” Brooks said. “And we just have to really be able to maintain our composure and play through everything and just play with force and play together.”

The blowout was also important because it enabled Brooks to rest Durant and Westbrook for when it counts — tonight.  Neither played more than 31 minutes and the Thunder scrubs all got extended duty.  By the end of the night, 4 Thunder bench players played more than 20 minutes and Daequan Cook (6 of 7 from the floor and 4 of 5 from three) played 18.  The Thunder’s bench accounted for 53 of their 99 points.  While they won’t see any where near that volume of minutes in game 6, their effective contributions could help put the Thunder over the edge and into the Western Conference Finals for the first time in Thunder franchise history.

Some betting trends:

Oklahoma City is 12-4 SU in their last 16 games and the Thunder are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 on the road.  The Thunder are 5-2 SU in their last 7 on the road and the total has gone OVER in 8 of OKC’s last 10 games against the Memphis Grizzlies.  The Thunder are 1-4 SU in their last 5 games on the road in Memphis.

The total has gone OVER in 6 of Memphis’ last 8 games and the Grizzlies are 17-6-1 ATS in their last 24 games.  The total has gone OVER in 4 of Memphis’ last 6 at home and the Grizzlies are 6-1 SU in their last 7 games at home.  The total has gone OVER in 8 of the last 10 games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Grizzlies are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games against OKC.

Given the big nature of tonight’s game, a close out game for the Thunder, you can expect Durant to come out with a big game.  The same holds true for Westbrook.  Both are well rested and have had their way the entire playoffs and it is likely that one of the two will score 35+ points tonight, which will probably be enough for Memphis to capitulate.

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