NBA Western Conference Playoffs Game Five: #7 Memphis Grizzlies at #2 Oklahoma City Thunder

2014 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #5

#7 Memphis Grizzlies at #2 Oklahoma City Thunder
Best of Seven Series Tied 2-2

Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: NBA TV
Opening Line: Oklahoma City -6
Current Line: Oklahoma City -7
Opening Total: 187
Current Total: 186
Opening Money Line: Thunder -275 / Grizzlies +227
Current Money Line: Thunder  -330 / Grizzlies +270

Oklahoma City and Memphis are tied 2-2 in the Western Conference quarterfinal series. Game Five is Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City and Memphis are tied 2-2 in the Western Conference quarterfinal series. Game Five is Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

In the Western Conference quarterfinal series between the #2 Oklahoma City Thunder and #7 Memphis Grizzlies, the last three games have gone into overtime. It is only the second NBA playoff series to have three straight overtime games, and the first since the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics in the 2009 Eastern Conference first round.

Oklahoma City won game one 100-86. Memphis took games two and three 111-105 and 98-95. The Thunder evened the series Saturday night with a 92-89 overtime win in Memphis. Now the teams come back to Oklahoma City for game five Tuesday in what is now a best of three series.

Saturday night, Oklahoma City took a 42-35 at halftime. The Thunder expanded the lead to 64-52 by the end of the third quarter. In the previous two games, Memphis blew large fourth quarter leads and had to hold off OKC in overtime. The opposite occurred in game five as Oklahoma City was up 14 in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies would fight back to take an 80-75 lead. Oklahoma City would tie it up at 80 with 30.6 seconds. Neither team would score again in regulation. The overtime period featured 7 lead changes. Thunder forward Kevin Durant made two free throws with 1:02 left to put the Thunder up for good in a game they had to have to avoid a 3-1 series deficit. The Grizzlies had won 15 straight home games dating back to the regular season before the game four loss.

On a night when Durant and Russell Westbrook both struggled from the field, Oklahoma City depended on guard Reggie Jackson to keep them in the game. Jackson scored a playoff career high and added 9 rebounds. Durant scored 15 points and added 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Westbrook also scored 15 points with 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. Westbrook and Durant were a combined 11/45 from the field. OKC outrebounded Memphis 58-49, including 12 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter and overtime. Memphis was led by center Marc Gasol who had 23 points and 11 rebounds. Guards Mike Conley and Tony Allen each scored 14 points. Conly had 10 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals. Allen had 13 rebounds.

Memphis is coached by David Joerger. The Grizzlies are 38-44-4 ATS and the total is 41-45 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 coached by Scott Brooks. OKC is 43-39-3 ATS and the total is 44-41 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 7-1-1 ATS in first round playoff games, 6-1 on 2 days rest, 11-3 in Tuesday games, 5-2-2 overall, 13-6 after a straight up loss, 3-9-2 against Western Conference teams, 2-6-1 against Northwest Division teams, 2-8-1 in road games, and 2-9 against teams with winning home records. The Grizzlies are 8-3-2 ATS in the last 13 overall against the Thunder and 7-3-1 ATS in the last 11 trips to Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City is 5-1 ATS in Tuesday games, 9-3-2 at home, 9-4-1 against teams with winning road records, 1-3-1 against teams with winning records, against Western Conference teams and against Southwest Division teams, 2-7-1 on 2 days rest, and 1-5-1 overall. The over is 15-6 in the last 21 games in this series. The home team is 4-1-2 ATS in the last 7 games in this series.

Since the 2010-11 season, Oklahoma City and Memphis have played 8 overtime games. This is the third time in the last four years that they have met in the playoffs. These teams are very evenly matched. I fully expect this series to go the full seven games. Westbrook and Durant struggled shooting in game four. They need to improve, but Memphis is one of the best defensive teams in the league. Tony Allen has done a good job defending Durant. Still, I like the Thunder to win at home to take a 3-2 series lead.

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