Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies - 4/19/14
Memphis Grizzlies (50-32) at Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23)
NBA Basketball: Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 9:30 pm (Chesapeake Energy Arena)
The Line: Oklahoma City Thunder -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds
The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies meet for Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs.
Despite being without Russell Westbrook for almost half of the regular season, the Thunder have been able to finish with a record of 59-23, just good enough for the second seed in the Western Conference. With Westbrook out so many games, Kevin Durant had to take on a greater load for his team and it led to him averaging a career-high 31.9 ppg this season, including 41 consecutive games of at least 25 points which breaks Michael Jordan's record of 40, not to mention his first MVP trophy (probably). Serge Ibaka continues to develop as a consistent offensive threat along with Jeremy Lamb off the bench, but a key last-second addition for OKC was Caron Butler who will surely play his part in these playoffs. I love the Thunder's chances of making it to the NBA Finals, especially since they've swept the Spurs 4-0 in the regular season.
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Meanwhile, the Grizzlies started their season winning just 13 of their last 30 games and looked destined to miss the playoffs when Marc Gasol got injured, but they got healthy just in time and were able to win 23 of their last 33 games to clinch the seventh seed in the crowded Western Conference with a record of 50-32. Zach Randolph remained a nightly double-double machine while Mike Conley replicated his numbers from last season but I just feel that the Grizzlies' title hopes rely heavily on the effectiveness of last season's Defensive Player of the Year, Marc Gasol. Obviously it's going to take a team effort to get past the Thunder in the first round, but Memphis' edge over OKC (and everyone else) is the frontcourt duo of Gasol and Randolph.
In ATS trends, the Grizzlies are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five games overall but just 1-7-1 ATS in their last nine road games, while the Thunder are 8-2-2 ATS in their last 12 home games and 13-5 ATS in their last 18 games against a team above .600.
Head to head, the Grizzlies are 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine meetings overall and 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine meetings in Oklahoma City.
I'm leaning slightly towards the Grizzlies for Game 1 as long as the bookies give me enough points, but please check back later for my free pick.
OK, the odds are finally up for this game and I have to say that I really like the Grizzlies with the points in this one because I'm expecting this one to go down to the wire.