Western Conference Battle: Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies

Oklahoma City Thunder AT Memphis Grizzlies
Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 at 8:05
Opening Line: Oklahoma City -2
Current Line: Oklahoma City -2.5
Opening Total:  198.5
Current Total: 199
Current Moneyline: OKC -135 / Memphis +115

Rudy Gay is one of the few that matches up well with Durant

Oklahoma City last played Saturday night against the best team in the league (if you’re going by records so far), San Antonio, and they lost badly 101-74.  While there’s seldom a silver lining in a loss like that, Oklahoma City threw in the towel early, enabling them to rest their starters for the entire fourth quarter.

“They handed it to us pretty fair and square,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said.

Even Durant had a bad night, by his standards, managing only 16 points, a season low for him.  Durant took a diplomatic approach to the loss:

“We just got to move on from this,” Durant said. “It was a tough one for us, but the name of the game is that it’s a long season. We got to just move on and push forward.”

Memphis, meanwhile, just blew out the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers by 19 points, and at points in the game they led by as many as 26.

“Coming out like this against the world champs should really motivate us to keep playing hard and winning,” Zach Randolph said. “This is really how we’ve got to play in the new year.”

It was a welcome sight for Grizzlies fans, who had just witnessed their team losing to New Jersey and Sacramento, two of the worst teams in their respective conferences.

Some betting trends:

Oklahoma City has won 9 of their past 13 games and the total has gone UNDER in 5 of their last 5 road games.  They are 3-6 over their past 9 on the road and the total has gone OVER in 7 of the last 10 games when playing Memphis.  Oklahoma City has won 4 of the last 5 against Memphis and 15 of the last 22 in Memphis.

The total for Memphis’s last 5 games has gone UNDER 4 times.  They have won 7 of their last 9 at home.  They are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 against OKC and they have lost their last 5 games to them.  Memphis is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games against OKC.

Memphis is averaging 99.6 a game and giving up 99.3, slightly strange considering they are 4 games UNDER .500.  Oklahoma City is giving up 101.2 and scoring 100.3  NBA oddsmakers have split the difference in setting the line at 198.5 for the total, which has since changed to 199.

Some key matchups:

Kevin Durant vs. Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay is playing a lot of minutes, 40 a night to be exact, and is proving he is worth the max contract he received this summer.  He’s averaging 20.9 points per game and 6.1 boards a night and is shooting a lights out 42.7% from three.  He’s one of the few players that has the lanky frame necessary to guard Kevin Durant, and the battle between these two young stars should be a good one.  Gay is averaging 19.6 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game in his career against Oklahoma City.  He closed out the season last year with a 25 point, 5 rebound night, but Durant still outscored him that night with 31 points and 7 rebounds.  This matchup will go a long way towards determining the outcome of the game.

Jeff Green vs. Zach Randolph

Randolph made his first all star team last year, and while his scoring is down slightly, 1.9 points, his rebounding is up 0.8 rebounds per game and he is turning in another solid campaign.  Jeff Green is goint to have his hands full with Randolph, whose size and strength will enable him to get a lot of offensive rebounds since Green will have trouble boxing him out.  Randolph is averaging 4.3 offensive boards a night and it often leads to easy baskets for the 6’9″ forward from Michigan State.

NBA Oddsmakers have set the line very close for tonight’s game and after examining the two matchups I showed here, it’s easy to see why.  Memphis, despite being an inferior team to Oklahoma City, is 9-6 at home and they matchup well against the Thunder.

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