Western Conference Semifinals: Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies Game 4

2013 NBA Playoffs – Western Conference Semifinals Game #4
#1 Oklahoma City Thunder at #5 Memphis Grizzlies
Grizzlies lead Best of Seven Series 2-1
Monday, May 13, 2013, 9:35 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
FedEx Forum – Memphis, Tennessee
Opening Line: Memphis -4 1/2
Current Line: Memphis -4 1/2
Opening Total: 184 1/2
Current Total: 184 1/2
Opening Money Line: Grizzlies -210 / Thunder +180
Current Money Line: Grizzlies -200 / Thunder +170

Memphis looks to go up 3-1 in the Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City.
Memphis looks to go up 3-1 in the Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City.

Superstar forward Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder has had to do much more since his sidekick Russell Westbrook went down with a torn meniscus in the first round of the playoffs. Westbrook, an all-star point guard will miss the remainder of the playoffs. Now the Thunder are down 2-1 against the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals with game 4 Monday night in Memphis. Durant is averaging 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists in the playoffs. Against Memphis, he has played at least 45 minutes in all three games. I am not sure there is much more Durant can do.

All three games in this series have been competitive in the final minute with both teams having a chance to win. Oklahoma City gutted out a 93-91 win in game one. The Grizzlies would take game two 99-93 to steal home court advantage. Game three was Saturday in Memphis. The Thunder played the Grizzlies’ style of basketball in game, and still lost 87-81. Oklahoma City had 51 rebounds while Mmephis had 44. The Thunder had 44 points in the paint and Memphis had 30. The main reason OKC lost was because they shot just 36.4% from the field. The game was close throughout.

In the fourth quarter Durant was guarding center Marc Gasol. Gasol had 20 points, including 16 in the second half. Durant scored 25 points, along with 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. However, Durant only scored  2 points in the fourth. Durant, a 91% free throw shooter in the regular season, missed two key free throws late in the game. Fatigue was a factor as Durant was exerting energy defending the larger and heavier Gasol. Thunder forward Serge Ibaka scored  13 points, and added 10 rebounds and 4 blocks. Ibaka has been criticized for his numbers not increasing since Westbrook was injured. Guard Reggie Jackson scored 16 points,and had 10 rebounds. Kevin Martin scored 13 off the bench for the Thunder. Guards Mike Conley and Tony Allen each scored 14 points for the Grizzlies.

Oklahoma City is coached by Scott Brooks. The Thunder are 52-37-2 ATS and the total is 39-50-2 this season. Oklahoma City is outscoring teams 106-97 this season. The Thunder are #3 in scoring and #9 in points allowed. OKC is shooting 48.1% from the field and 37.7% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #3 in both categories. Oklahoma City leads the league in free throw shooting at 82.8%. The Thunder average 43.6 rebounds per game and give up 40.7 per game. They are #6 in both rebounding and rebounds allowed. OKC opponents are shooting 42.5% from the field and 34.6% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #2 in opponents’ field goal percentage, and #6 in three point defense. Oklahoma City averages 21.4 assists, 8.3 steals, 7.6 blocks, and 14.6 turnovers per game.

In the playoffs, forward Kevin Durant averages 32.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1 block per game. Durant lost the scoring title in the regular season to Knicks’ forward Carmelo Anthony by six tenths of a point. Guard Russell Westbrook averaged 24 points, 6.5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals per game before the injury. Second year guard Reggie Jackson will start in place of Westbrook for the playoffs. He is averaging 14 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. Guard Kevin Martin averages 13.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. Martin was acquired in the James Harden trade. Forward Serge Ibaka averages 13 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. Guard Thabo Sefolosha averages 6.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Nick Collison, Ronnie Brewer, Kendrick Perkins, and Hasheem Thabeet make up the rest of the rotation. The Thunder signed veteran point guard Derek Fisher late in the regular season for the playoff run. He is averaging 8.2 points per game.

Memphis is coached by Lionel Hollins. Memphis is 54-35-2 ATS and the total is 36-53-1 this season. Memphis is outscoring teams 94-90 this season. They are first in the league in points allowed and are #26 in scoring. The Grizzlies are shooting 44.4% from the field and 34.5% from 3 point range. The Grizzlies are #21 in field goal percentage and #24 in three point shooting. Memphis is #9 in the league in free throw shooting at 77.3% from the line. The Grizzlies average 42.6 rebounds per game and give up 39. Memphis is #1 in rebounds allowed and #12 in rebounding. Grizzlies’ opponents are  shooting 43.7% from the field and 33.9% from 3 point range. Memphis is #3 in both categories. The Grizzlies average 20.9 assists, 8.6 steals, 5.3 blocks and 13.2 turnovers a game.

In the playoffs, forward Zach Randolph averages 20.8 points, 8 rebounds to lead the team, and 1.7 assists per game. Randolph dominated the last 4 games against the Clippers scoring at least 23 points in each game. Point Guard Mike Conley, Jr. averages 17.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 8.3 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. Center Marc Gasol averages 17.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, a steal, and 1.7 blocks per game. Forward Tayshawn Prince was acquired from the Detroit Pistons in the Rudy Gay trade. Prince is probable with a hip injury. He is averaging 8.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game in the playoffs.  Tony Allen starts at shooting guard and is one of the best defenders in the league. Allen averages 12 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Point guard Jerryd Bayless, forward Quincy Pondexter, forward Darrell Arthur, guard Tony Wroten, and forwards Ed Davis and Austin Daye  make up the rest of the rotation.

OKC is 9-2 ATS against teams with winning home records, 7-2 in road games, 19-7 after failing to cover, 38-18 after a straight up loss, 1-5 against teams with winning records, overall, against Western Conference teams, against Southwest Division teams, and on one day rest. The underdog is 6-2 ATS in the last 8 in this series and the road team is 8-2 ATS recently. The over is 15-7 in this series recently.

Memphis is 8-0 ATS against teams with winning records, 7-0 on one day rest, and after a cover, 6-0 against Northwest Division teams, 5-0 at home, and after a straight up win, 4-1 in conference semifinal games, 12-3-1 against Western Conference teams, 15-5-1 overall, and 35-16 against teams with winning road records. The Grizzlies are 6-2 ATS in the last 8 against the Thunder.

Durant has been spectacular in this series but has struggled down the stretch in the last two games, mainly due to fatigue from having to do too much on both offense and defense. The Thunder could have easily won the last two games. I think Brooks needs to rest Durant some minutes in the second and third, but he can’t do that if the rest of the Thunder don’t pick up the slack. Memphis has only 9 losses at home this season in the building nicknamed the Grindhouse. I like the Grizzlies to win a another close home game to take command of the series and push the Thunder to the brink.

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