The Memphis Grizzlies (3-3) will travel to face the Oklahoma City Thunder (3-3) in a winner take all Game 7 of their first round series Saturday night. The game tips off at 8:00 pm ET from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and will be televised nationally on TNT. Oklahoma City is currently a 7.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 185 points.
Why Memphis Will Cover
With a chance to close out the series on their own home floor, the Grizzlies were flat from the start and were pasted 104-84 by the Thunder Thursday night, evening the series at three games apiece. Marc Gasol led four Grizzlies in double figures with 17 points in the defeat. Zach Randolph scored 16 points while collecting eight rebounds, James Johnson had 15 off the bench and Tony Allen contributed 13. Memphis was held to 37.3 percent shooting from the floor, 3 of 14 from three point range, hit 19 of 28 free throws and lost the rebounding battle 47-36. Mike Conley finished with five points, four rebounds and six assists but has a hamstring injury; he says he’ll play in Game 7 but he’ll likely be at less than full speed. The Grizzlies will be minus Randolph, who was suspended for punching Steven Adams in the throat in the fourth quarter of Game 6.
Memphis is 11th among playoff teams with an average of 94.7 points per game in the postseason. The Grizzlies are 3rd in rebounding with 45 per game and tied for 3rd in assists as they dish out an average of 21.7 per game. Seven players average at least 7.2 points a game with four averaging in double figures so far in the postseason. Randolph leads the team with 18.2 points and tied for the team lead with 8.7 rebounds per game. Gasol averages 16.2 points while standing tied for the team lead with 8.7 rebounds, Conley chips in 15.7 points with a team high 7.7 assists while Allen has contributed 11.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and a team high 2 steals. Memphis is 14th in the postseason in field goal percentage as they shoot 41.2 percent from the floor as a team. The Grizzlies are last in three point field goals per game with 4.3; they’re last in the playoffs as they hit 28.9 percent from beyond the arc.
The Grizzlies have a solid bench group to work with, even with Nick Calathes suspended for violating the league’s drug policy. Allen, Ed Davis, Jon Leuer, Kosta Koufos, Mike Miller and Johnson all are versatile players that can step up and make plays. Memphis is 10th in scoring defense among playoff teams by allowing 99.2 points per game. The Grizzlies are 2nd in field goal percentage defense by allowing 41.1 percent shooting from the floor. Memphis is 7th by allowing 7.5 three point field goals per game and 2nd in three point field goal percentage defense by holding the Thunder to 29.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Why Oklahoma City Will Cover
With their season hanging in the balance, the Thunder delivered a complete performance in a 104-84 whipping of Memphis on the road in Game 6 of their series Thursday night. Kevin Durant led three Oklahoma City players in double figures with 36 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Russell Westbrook scored 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out five assists while collecting three steals and Reggie Jackson finished with 16 off the bench. Oklahoma City shot 49.3 percent from the floor, hit 7 of 21 three point attempts, sank 23 of 25 free throws and won the rebounding battle 47-36.
Oklahoma City is 7th in the postseason in scoring offense with an average of 99.2 points per game. The Thunder is tops in the playoffs in rebounding by collecting 50.7 boards per game and 15th in assists by dishing out an average of 18 per game. Six players are scoring at least 4.2 points per game in the playoffs but four are averaging in double figures. Durant is scoring 29.3 points along with a team high 9.8 rebounds plus 3.7 assists a game. Westbrook puts up a line of 25.3 points along with 9.7 rebounds and a team high 6.7 assists while Ibaka contributes 13.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and a team high 3 blocks per game so far. Jackson chips in 11.5 points with 5.2 rebounds per contest. Oklahoma City is 15th in the playoffs in field goal percentage as they shoot 41.1 percent from the floor in the playoffs. The Thunder is 10th with 7.5 three pointers per game but they fall 15th in three point field goal percentage as they’re shooting just 29.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Scott Brooks has a nice mix of reserves to go to in order to step up. Derek Fisher, Jackson, Caron Butler, Nick Collison and Perry Jones are all solid players that know their role in the lineup. Oklahoma City is 6th in scoring defense by allowing 94.7 points per game. The Thunder is 3rd in field goal percentage defense, limiting Memphis to 41.2 percent shooting from the floor. Oklahoma City is first in three point field goals allowed as they give up 4.3 per game; they’re 1st in three point field goal percentage defense as the Grizzlies have shot 28.9 percent from beyond the arc in the series.
Head to Head Matchup
The teams have split two playoff series in their history with the Grizzlies holding a 10-8 advantage in games won during the postseason. In the last meeting between the clubs in the playoffs, the Grizzlies knocked off Oklahoma City four games to one in the 2013 Western Conference semifinals. Oklahoma City holds a 50-21 advantage in the all-time regular season series between the two teams.
The Grizzlies had a chance to put the final nail in the coffin in Game 6 and failed miserably. Playing on the road in a Game 7, with their star point guard hobbled, makes this an extremely dicey proposition for Memphis to try and follow through on. Memphis is 0-2 in Game 7s in their franchise history and one of those losses was to the Thunder three years ago. If Conley was healthy, it would be a different story but with him limited, it might be too much to expect for Memphis to pull out the win. With Randolph out of the mix as well, the Grizzlies have too much working against them. Thunder 103-93
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