Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies Game Time: 8:00 pm EST
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies TV Coverage: TNT
NBA Playoff Odds at JustBet: Oklahoma City -2.5 Total: 184.5

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Thursday NBA Playoff Analysis: The Memphis Grizzlies will look to close out their first round series when the host the Oklahoma City Thunder from the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Memphis is coming off a game 5 victory defeating the Thunder 100-99 in Oklahoma City. The Grizzlies stormed out to a 55-43 halftime lead, yet the Thunder made a rally in the second half to force overtime. The overtime period was relatively low scoring, but with two key 3 pointers by Mike Miller, the Grizzlies squeaked out a slim 1 point victory after Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant failed to make a key free throw down the stretch. This has truly been a great series, one that has seen the last 4 games go in to overtime. Memphis’ stellar defense has been the key, holding the Thunder to 39.4% shooting from the field. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have led the team in scoring, yet there hasn’t been a third player that’s stepped up on a consistent basis. Reggie Jackson came off the bench to score 32 points in game 4, sparking a 92-89 victory in Memphis. Some are questioning Russell Westbrook’s shot selection, while he’s averaging 25.4 ppg in the series; he’s only shooting 34.4% from the field and averaging 4.6 turnovers per game. As for Memphis, they are looking like a well oiled machine, getting contributions from everyone. Zach Randolph (18.6 ppg) and Marc Gasol (16.0 ppg) are leading the way in the paint, while Mike Conley is running the offense with efficiency averaging 17.6 points and 8.0 assists per game. While defense is their strength, they are actually shooting the ball better than the Thunder hitting almost 42% of their shot attempts. Defensive standout Tony Allen has provided a spark off the bench as well, averaging 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game.

Do you remember the Oklahoma City team that was on fire in January? I do…that was the team with Reggie Jackson at the point, not Russell Westbrook. Is Westbrook talented? Yes, no question. But my biggest concern about this team is the fact that they have a point guard with a score-first mentality. When Jackson was starting at the point this team was clicking on all cylinders, but when Westbrook returned, they were just 16-11 afterwards. Marc Gasol came back from injury on January 14th, since then the Grizzlies are 33-13. Many forget that this Memphis team made it to the Western conference finals last year, and they did have a slow start due to a coaching change. Now it’s the playoffs, and this Memphis team is really hitting their stride. Just because they’re a 7 seed, doesn’t mean they’re inferior. If you look at the recent results, this may not be such a major upset. Memphis just matches up well with Oklahoma City, and with the way they play defense and against an erratic point guard like Westbrook, it’s pretty obvious why they’re up in the series. They may not have the stars on offense, but they are just the better overall team. I’m grabbing the points with the Grizzlies on Thursday night, and see them advancing to the second round.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies Free NBA Playoff Pick: Memphis +2.5 Over 184.5
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies Game Prediction: Memphis 96 Oklahoma City 93

 

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