Two teams that just won their first series in their team histories will duke it out for a spot in the Western Conference Finals starting on Sunday afternoon, as the Oklahoma City Thunder meet the Memphis Grizzlies in NBA playoffs betting action.
#8 Memphis Grizzlies (50-38 SU, 57-29-2 ATS)
How They Got Here: It’s really anyone’s guess how the Grizzlies got to this point in the playoffs. In fact, it’s a wonder how they’re even here in the second season after losing Rudy Gay to an injury for the season a few months ago. However, when push comes to shove, this has always been a team that has just outworked its competition, and there is definitely something to be said about that. The Grizz became the fourth team in the history of the league to come out of the No. 8 seed to win a series in the first round.
Player to Watch: Zach Randolph is putting up the points, but Mike Conley Jr. is going to be the man with the big target on his back in this series. Conley turned out to be worthy of that early choice by the Grizz a few years ago, the same draft in which Greg Oden turned out to be an uber bust. He scored at least 13 points in five of the six games in this series against San Antonio and averaged 14.3 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game.
The Grizzlies Can Win This Series If…: They just keep continuing to play with heart and hustle. This was the only slogan of the Orlando Magic back the day when they really didn’t have all that much talent, and that always brought them far in the playoffs. This could be the year that Memphis really gets to feel that pride, and it could carry them far.
#4 Oklahoma City Thunder (59-28 SU, 45-40-2 ATS)
How They Got Here: Potent scoring, timely defense, and a newly found grit and tenacity have been the keys for the Thunder, and now that the Spurs are out of the way, the door has swung wide open for their march in the playoffs. We all knew that this was the year that Oklahoma City was going to challenge for the championship, and we might just be a few short games away from it being right on the doorstep of the finale.
Player to Watch: It’s really hard to come up with any other name but that of Kevin Durant in this series. Durant is the real deal, and he is proving it once again. The top scorer still alive in the playoffs isn’t Kobe Bryant, isn’t Ray Allen, isn’t Paul Pierce, isn’t LeBron James, isn’t Dirk Nowitzki, and isn’t Dwyane Wade. It’s Durant. Durant will be a key on both sides of the ball, as he is likely to be matched up with Zach Randolph on the other side of the court. Durant was good for 32.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game in the first round against the Nuggets, and if he can keep that up here against Memphis, the Thunder might not be stopped.
The Thunder Can Win This Series If…: They keep up this defensive intensity. The Nuggs, one of the top scoring teams in the league, scored more than 100 points just twice in the first round of the playoffs, and they never exceeded the 105 point mark. Oklahoma city hit triple digits in four of the five games. It’s clear that blocking shots and grabbing rebounds is now far more important than anything else in the Sooner State.
Analyzing the NBA Series Odds: The Thunder are understandably the favorites in this series, but we’re really not all that sure that it is justified, at least by this type of a margin. That being said, Oklahoma City is just going to be too tough when push comes to shove, especially playing at home, and when it’s all said and done, that home court advantage is going to be the big time difference in this series. Thunder in 7
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.