Memphis Grizzlies AT Oklahoma City Thunder
May 3, 2011 at 9:30 PM EST
Opening Line: OKC -6
Current Line: OKC -6.5
Opening Total: 198
Current Total: 197
Opening Moneyline: OKC -215, MEM +185
Current Moneyline: OKC -310, MEM +260
As predicted in the series preview, the interior defense of the Thunder, while strong, will have their problems all series with Memphis’ bigs Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. The duo combined for 54 points and 23 boards, as the Grizzlies stole game 1, just like they did against the number one seeded Spurs.
The Thunder’s James Harden was upset by the 52 points scored in the paint by the Grizzlies, the most allowed since Kendrick Perkins joined the starting lineup.
“They played physical, they bullied us in the first game,” Harden commented. “So, the second game, we just have to prepare and go out there and not make excuses and win a game.”
The Grizzlies interior play was strong all season. They led the NBA with 51.5 points per game in the paint and in the 4 games against the Thunder in the regular season, that figured leaped to 59 a game. The Grizzlies are wise to pound it inside and take it to the hole because they shot a combined 10 of 38 from outside the paint and were a wicked 1 of 15 from three point range.
Harden, ever the observant one, simply said “We just have to pack the paint.” If it were that easy, teams would have been slowing down the Grizzlies interior play all season. Clogging the paint does little to change the effect of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph’s killer mid range jumpers. Packing the paint may prevent some layups, but it is far from being a solution as Harden insinuated.
Zach Randolph even replied to the statement by Harden without knowing it. “We can shoot the ball, pick and roll. It ain’t just coming down and throwin’ it in the post,” Randolph said. “We can do different stuff a lot of the other big guys can’t do. Randolph has been on fire. He scored 31 in the final game against San Antonio, then bested his (and the Grizzlies’ playoff high) with 34 points in game 1 against the Thunder. This season he’s had three games with at least 30 and 10 against the Thunder.
“I think Zach showed you how much he can do if they don’t double-team him,” Memphis forward Darrell Arthur said. “And if they do double-team, he’s such a great passer out of the post that it doesn’t really matter.”
The player that once was suspected to make teammates worse has reversed his fortune and found a way to make his teammates in Memphis better. He’s also overcome a troubled off court past and found a way to mature and be a good veteran leader. Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins recognized the shift in Randolph’s mindset. “I think Zach is the epitome of life,” said Hollins. “When we’re young people, we make mistakes. We do things that we shouldn’t do, and we grow and become better men. Whether it’s in this game or in life, that’s what this world is all about.”
The Thunder are simply going to have to hope that Randolph and Gasol miss shots, because their tough inside-outside play is going to give Ibaka and Perkins trouble all series. “Zach made eight shots from the perimeter. There’s nothing you can do about that, other than pushing him outside a few extra feet and crowding his space. Gasol made four jump shots, and that’s not his strength of his game,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “But they made them and give them credit. They stepped up and they made those shots.”
Some betting trends:
Memphis is 7-0-1 ATS in their last 8 games and the total has gone OVER in 4 of Memphis’ last 5 games. The Grizzlies are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games and the Grizzlies are 2-4 SU in their last 6 on the road. Memphis is 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 road games and the total has gone OVER in 5 of the Grizzlies last 6 games on the road. The total has gone OVER In 5 of Memphis’ last 6 games on the road and it has also gone OVER in all 5 of the last 5 matchups against OKC. Memphis is 4-1 SU in their last 5 against the Thunder and 7-15-1 ATS in their last 23 games at OKC. The total has gone OVER in all 5 of Memphis’ last 5 games on the road in OKC and the Grizzlies are 7-18 SU in their last 25 games on the road in OKC.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are 2-4-1 ATS in their last 7 games and the Thunder are 19-6 SU in their last 25 games. The Thunder are 9-2 SU in their last 11 games at home and they are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 at home. The Thunder are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 against Memphis and the total has gone OVER in all 5 of the last 5 games against the Grizzlies. OKC is 1-4 SU in their last 5 games against Memphis and OKC is 18-7 SU in their last 25 home games against Memphis. OKC is 15-7-1 ATS in their last 23 games at home against Memphis and the total has gone OVER in all 5 of the last 5 home games against the Memphis Grizziles.
Tonight’s game should be interesting. The Thunder are going to have problems with Randolph all series, but Scott Brooks is a good coach and may find a solution to the problem. Durant and Westbrook are going to have to have to continue to have big games. Durant and Westbrook combined for 62 of the Thunder’s 101 points and only one other player (Ibaka, 16) was in double figures. Harden is going to have to contribute off the bench and provide some scoring in the second unit, because Memphis has a strong bench. Look for the Thunder to try to push the pace and turn it into a shootout.