2014 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #7
#7 Memphis Grizzlies at #2 Oklahoma City Thunder
Best of Seven Series Tied 3-3
Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Saturday, May 3, 2014, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Oklahoma City -8
Current Line: Oklahoma City -9
Opening Total: 185 1/2
Current Total: 184 1/2
Opening Money Line: Thunder -360 / Grizzlies +295
Current Money Line: Thunder -525 / Grizzlies +405
Five of the eight first round series in the NBA playoffs are going to game seven. That is not only a record for the first round, but ties the record for the most game sevens in any playoff year for all rounds. The second of those five game sevens will take place Saturday night in Oklahoma City as the #2 seed Thunder take on the #7 Memphis Grizzlies.
Oklahoma City won game one 100-86 at home. Memphis stole home court with a 111-105 overtime victory in game two. The Grizzlies also took game three 98-95 in overtime. The Thunder tied the series with a 92-89 overtime win in game four. That OKC win snapped a 15 game home winning streak for the Grizzlies. Memphis took game five 100-99 in overtime to regain control of the series. It is the first playoff series in league history with four straight games that went to overtime. OKC faced elimination in game six in Memphis Thursday, but the Thunder won easily 104-84 to force game seven.
On Thursday, the Daily Oklahoman newspaper published a controversial headline calling likely league MVP Kevin Durant “Mr. Unreliable” because of his poor play in the series so far. The paper would later apologize for the headline, but Durant said he needed to play better. Durant would respond with his best game of the series by far. He scored 14 of his 36 points in the first quarter. The Thunder trailed early 6-4, but would never trail again. The Thunder took a 56-41 lead into halftime and Memphis wouldn’t get closer than that in the second half.
Even though the game was a rout, the fourth quarter would prove eventful for Memphis. First, guard Mike Conley strained his hamstring and left the game. He briefly tried to return, but left for good with just under 9 minutes left, since OKC had the game well in hand. He is listed as probable for game seven but Conley says he will play. Grizzlies’ forward Zach Randolph threw a half-hearted punch late in the game to Thunder center Steven Adams. Randolph was suspended by the league for game 7 for the incident. When it rains it pours. Guard Tony Allen suffered an eye injury in game six and is questionable for game seven. His defense has been instrumental in Durant’s bad shooting in the series.
In addition to the 36 points, Durant had 10 rebounds. Russell Westbrook had 25 points with 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Guard Reggie Jackson added 16 points off the bench. Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Randolph had 16 points and 8 rebounds.
Memphis is coached by David Joerger. The Grizzlies are 39-45-4 ATS and the total is 43-45 this season.
Memphis is outscoring teams 96-95 this season. The Grizzlies are #3 in points allowed but #27 out of 30 teams in scoring. Memphis is shooting 46.4% from the field and 35.3% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #7 in field goal percentage. Memphis makes 74.1% of their free throws and is #23 in the league. Opponents are shooting 45% from the field and 35.5% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are 12th or better in both categories. Memphis averages 42.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 39.2 per game. The Grizzlies are #19 in rebounding but lead the league in rebounds allowed. Memphis averages 21.8 assists, 13.7 turnovers, 7.7 steals and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 19.9 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 7.2 steals, and 5 blocks per game.
Forward Zach Randolph averages 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. Point guard Mike Conley averages 17.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Center Marc Gasol averages 14.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. Guard Courtney Lee averages 11 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1 steal per game. Guard Tony Allen averages 9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. James Johnson, Beno Udrih, Mike Miller, Kosta Koufos, Tayshaun Prince and Ed Davis will also get significant minutes. Back-up point guard Nick Calathes was suspended 20 games by the league for violating the substance abuse policy and will miss the postseason. If Conley can’t go, Udrih is the only other point guard on the roster, and will get significant minutes. Guard Quincy Pondexter is out for the season with a broken foot.
Oklahoma City is coached by Scott Brooks. OKC is 44-40-3 ATS and the total is 46-41 this season.
Oklahoma City is outscoring teams 106-100 this season. The Thunder are #5 in scoring and #12 in points allowed. OKC is shooting 47.1% from the field and 36.1% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #6 in field goal percentage and #14 in three point shooting. Oklahoma City is second in the league in free throw shooting at 80.6% from the line. Opponents are shooting 43.6% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #3 in opponents’ field goal percentage. Oklahoma City averages 44.7 rebounds per game and opponents average 40.9 per game. The Thunder are #7 in rebounding and #3 in rebounds allowed. OKC averages 21.9 assists, 15.5 turnovers, 8.2 steals and 6.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 21.8 assists, 15.1 turnovers, 8.3 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.
Durant is having the best season of his already stellar career, having taken his game to another level. He won his fourth straight scoring title at 32 points per game, and also averages 7.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Point guard Russell Westbrook averages 21.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He is playing some of the best basketball of his career as well since he returned from knee surgery in late February. Forward Serge Ibaka averages 15.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1 assist and 2.7 blocks per game. Ibaka is second in the league in blocks. Guard Reggie Jackson averages 13.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Forward Caron Butler, acquired at the trade deadline from the Milwaukee Bucks, averages 9.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Jeremy Lamb, Thabo Sefolosha, Derek Fisher, Nick Collison, Perry Jones, Kendrick Perkins, and Steven Adams will also get significant minutes in the rotation. Sefolosha and Perkins returned to line-up late in the regular season after both missed significant games due to injury.
Memphis is 5-1 ATS after a straight up loss of 10 points or more, 4-1 after allowing 100 points or more in the previous game, 4-1-1 in Saturday games, 8-2-1 in first round playoff games. 3-1-1 against teams with winning records, overall, against Western Conference teams, and against Northwest Division teams, 14-6 after a straight up loss, 3-9 against teams with winning home records, 2-7 after failing to cover, and 2-8-2 on one day rest. The Grizzlies are 3-1-1 ATS in the last five games in the series. Mmephis is 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 trips to Oklahoma City. The underdog and road team are both 3-1-1 ATS in this series recently.
Oklahoma City is 15-5-1 ATS in Saturday games, 9-4-2 at home, 3-7 after a straight up win of 10 points or more, 1-3-1 in first round playoff games, against Western Conference teams, against Southwest Division teams, against teams with winning records, and on one day rest, 2-6-1 overall, and 1-5 after the opponent allows 100 points or more in the previous game. The over is 4-1 int he last 5 games in this series and 16-6 in Oklahoma City.
With a hobbled Conley and a suspended Randolph, you might think OKC should win this game easily. However, the Grizzlies are a gritty tough team who have battled injuries to key players all season. Durant and Westbrook need to play as well as they did in game six. If they don’t then the Thunder will be in trouble. I think the Thunder win, but the Grizzlies won’t go away quietly.