NBA Playoffs Game Six Handicapping Picks: #2 Oklahoma City Thunder at #7 Memphis Grizzlies

2014 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #6

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder at #7 Memphis Grizzlies 
Grizzlies Lead Best of Seven Series 3-2
FedEx Forum – Memphis, Tennessee
Thursday, May 1, 2014, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Oklahoma City -3 (-111)
Current Line: Oklahoma City -2 1/2
Opening Total: 186 1/2
Current Total: 185
Opening Money Line: Thunder -150 / Grizzlies +130
Current Money Line: Thunder  -140 / Grizzlies +120

Kevin Durant and the Thunder look to avoid elimination on the road in game six of the Western Conference first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies Thursday night.
Kevin Durant and the Thunder look to avoid elimination on the road in game six of the Western Conference first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies Thursday night.

The Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the #2 Oklahoma City Thunder and the #7 Memphis Grizzlies is the first playoff series in NBA history to have four straight games go into overtime. The Grizzlies have won three of those four overtime games to take a 3-2 series lead. Memphis looks to close out the series at home Thursday night in game six. An Oklahoma City win would force game seven Saturday in OKC.

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 Tuesday night in overtime to regain control of the series.

Memphis jumped out to a 55-43 halftime lead in game five in Oklahoma City. the Grizzlies expanded the lead to 18 with 4:24 left in the third quarter. The Thunder closed the quarter on an 18-6 run to get back into the game. The Thunder would take a 79-78 lead with 6:46 left in the fourth. Neither team would lead by more than five points for the rest of regulation. Memphis took a 90-88 lead with 30 seconds left after Tony Allen made one of two free throws. The Grizzlies grabbed an offensive rebound off the missed free throw. With six seconds left, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook stole the ball from Grizzlies’ guard Mike Conley. Westbrook then made the game tying dunk with four seconds left. Memphis was unable to get a shot off before the clock expired sending the game into overtime.

In overtime, Memphis forward Mike Miller made two three pointers to give the Grizzlies a 96-92 lead. OKC tied the game at 98 with 1:27 left. Memphis took a 100-98 lead on a driving lay-up with 1:01 to go. Thunder forward Kevin Durant was fouled. He made the first free throw to make it 100-99. However, just as he was about to shoot the second free throw, referee Joey Crawford grabbed the ball out of Durant’s hands and began arguing with the scorer’s table. Durant would miss the second free throw. Miller missed a 25 foot jumper with 3 seconds left. After a Thunder timeout, Durant missed a three pointer. Thunder forward Serge Ibaka tipped in the putback, seemingly giving OKC the win. However the refs said no basket, and replays confirmed the ball was still in his hand when the red light went on. The Grizzlies held on for the one point win.

Miller scored 21 points off the bench to lead the Grizzlies. He made 5 of 8 three pointers, and also had 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Forward Zach Randolph had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Conley had 17 points and 4 assists. Center Marc Gasol scored 11 points along with 15 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks. Westbrook had a triple double with 30 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. Westbrook struggled from the field shooting only 10/31. Durant had 26 points with 8 rebounds and 2 assists. He also struggled from the field as he has the whole series. Durant shot 10 for 24 from the field. Ibaka had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Forward Caron Butler scored 15 points with 5 rebounds off the bench. No other Thunder player scored more than 6 points. The Thunder shot under 40% as a team fro the game.

Oklahoma City is coached by Scott Brooks. OKC is 43-40-3 ATS and the total is 45-41 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 coached by David Joerger. The Grizzlies are 39-44-4 ATS and the total is 42-45 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, 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 series. Guard Quincy Pondexter is out for the season with a broken foot.

Oklahoma City is 2-5 ATS after the opponent scores 100 points or more, 3-8 in Thursday games, 1-3-1 after failing to cover, 0-3-1 after a straight up loss, in first round playoff games, against teams with winning records, in road games, overall, against Western Conference teams, against Southwest Division teams, on one day rest, and against teams with winning home records.

Memphis is 3-0-1 ATS against teams with winning records, overall, against Western Conference teams, and against Northwest Division teams, 3-1-1 at home, after the opponent allows 100 points or more, and after scoring 100 points or more, 15-5-4 in first round playoff games,  39-16-1 against teams with winning road records, 4-10-2 after a straight up win, and 2-7-2 on one day rest. The underdog is 3-0-1 ATS in this series recently, and Memphis has been the underdog in all five games so far in this series. The Grizzlies are 4-1-1 ATS in the last 6 games against the Thunder in Memphis.

Two seasons ago, LeBron James and the Miami Heat were down 3-2 to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals with game six on the road. James responded with one of the best playoff performances in history with 40 points and 18 rebounds. The Heat won that game and would go on to win game seven before beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Finals. If Kevin Durant is truly the MVP of the league like he has played in the regular season I expect a similar performance from Durant as James did. There is no way the league’s supposed best player should allow his team to lose in the first round, even if Memphis is a very talented, tough and gritty team. I like the Thunder to force game seven.

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