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

2014 NBA Playoffs
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game #3

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder at #7 Memphis Grizzlies 
Best of Seven Series Tied 1-1 
FedEx Forum – Memphis, Tennessee
Thursday, April 24, 2014, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Opening Line: Oklahoma City -1
Current Line: Oklahoma City -2 1/2
Opening Total: 190
Current Total: 189 1/2
Opening Money Line: Thunder -130 / Grizzlies +110
Current Money Line: Thunder  -145 / Grizzlies +125

The Grizzlies and Thunder are tied at 1-1. Game three of the Western Confernce quarterfinals is Thursday night in Memphis.
The Grizzlies and Thunder are tied at 1-1. Game three of the Western Confernce quarterfinals is Thursday night in Memphis.

After two games, three of the four Western Conference first round playoff series are tied at 1-1. Only the Portland Trail Blazers are up 2-0 against the Houston Rockets. The #2 seed Oklahoma City Thunder split the first two games of their series against the #7 Memphis Grizzlies in Oklahoma City. Now the series switches to Memphis for game three Thursday and game four Saturday.

In game one last Saturday, Oklahoma City had a 25 point lead in the first half. However. Memphis fought back to within 2 points in the fourth quarter. The Thunder would pull away again and take a 100-86 victory.

Memphis led for most of game two. The Grizzlies led by 9 in the fourth quarter. However, the Thunder fought back. Still Memphis led by 5 with 19 seconds left and looked they had stolen home court in the series. Then likely league MVP Kevin Durant hit an incredible three point shot while falling out of bounds for the Thunder. He was also fouled by Grizzlies’ center Marc Gasol. Durant would make the free throw to finish up the four point play. OKC center Kendrick Perkins, not really known for his offensive prowess , made a lay-up at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. The Grizzlies would win in overtime 111-105 to earn the split in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City is coached by Scott Brooks. OKC is 43-38-2 ATS and the total is 43-40 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 37-44-3 ATS and the total is 40-44 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 13-6-1 ATS against Southwest Division teams, 3-7 in Thursday games, 1-3-1 after a straight up loss, 2-6-1 on two days rest, 2-7 in road games, 1-4 overall, and when the opponent allows 100 points or more in the previous game, and 1-6 against teams with winning home records. The favorite is 4-1-1 ATS in the last 6 games in this series.

Memphis is 6-1 ATS in first round playoff games, 5-1 on two days rest, 38-16 against teams with winning road records, 7-3 at home, 11-5-1 after allowing 100 points or more, 4-9-1 overall, 2-5 after the opponent scores 100 points or more, 2-5-1 after scoring 100 points or more in the previous game,  2-6 in Thursday games, 2-6-1 after the opponent allows 100 points or more, 3-10-1 after a straight up win, 2-9-1 against Western Conference teams, and 1-6 against Northwest Division teams. The home team is 3-1-1 ATS in the last 5 games in this series. The Grizzlies are 7-3-1 ATS in the last 11 games against the Thunder.

These two teams split the two meetings in Memphis during the regular season. The Thunder are certainly capable of winnign on the road, but Memphis has one of the best home courts in the league. Durant and Westbrook will get theirs, obviously, but the Thunder play much better when the supporting cast is involved in the offense. Players like Ibaka and Jackson need to score like they did in game one. I like the Thunder to take back home court with a close road win in front a wild Grindhouse crowd.

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