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Grizzlies try to keep momentum vs. Thunder on Thursday
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Published: 4/24/2014  at  5:46:00 AM
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NBA Playoffs - Western Conference First Round
Game 3 - Series tied 1-1
Tip-off: Thursday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -1.5, Total: 190

The Grizzlies look to build off a big Game 2 victory, as they host the Thunder in a pivotal Game 3 of their first-round series on Thursday night.

After getting dominated in Game 1, Memphis (37-44-3 ATS overall, 17-23-1 ATS at home) showed championship mettle by bouncing back to hold off Oklahoma City in overtime for a 111-105 win on Monday to even the series at 9-9 SU (Memphis 12-6 ATS) over the past three seasons. The Grizzlies outshot their opponent 49.4% FG to 39.8% FG and dominated points in the paint (56-36), and looked to have a comfortable lead in Game 2 with less than 22 seconds to go, but then Kevin Durant converted on a four-point play to help the Thunder extend the game to overtime. However, Zach Randolph helped Memphis outscore Oklahoma City 12-6 in overtime to tie the series at one game apiece. The Grizzlies have struggled with free throws all season long, but made the shots from the charity stripe on Monday, going 21-of-24 (88%). Converting on all of those easy points prevented the Thunder (44-39-1 ATS overall, 20-21 ATS on road) from getting out and running. In Game 1, Oklahoma City was able to get 32 points fast-break points in the open floor, but managed just 16 fast-break points in Game 2. If the Thunder cannot get out and run, that gives Memphis a terrific chance of winning the game in which both teams have positive betting trends. Oklahoma City is 19-6 ATS (76%) after failing to cover three of its previous four games ATS over the past two seasons, and 14-4 ATS (78%) versus horrible foul drawing teams (21 or less FTA per game) this season, while over the past two seasons, the Grizzlies are 56-37 ATS (60%) when facing a winning team and 54-40 ATS (57%) after an ATS win.

The Thunder really struggled to score in Game 2, shooting 39.8% from the field and 30.0% (9-of-30) from the three-point line. PG Russell Westbrook (26.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 6.5 APG in series) was terrific in the first half on Monday, scoring 16 points while shooting 6-of-10 from the field. However, the Grizzlies did a great job of frustrating Westbrook in the second half, forcing him to go 5-of-18 for the remainder of the game. But he still wound up with seven rebounds and eight assists. SF Kevin Durant (34.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 5.5 APG in series) was spectacular all night with 36 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, but at times did not demand the ball like a potential MVP should. While some of the credit goes to the defense by Tony Allen, Durant must do a better job of getting open in this game. PF Serge Ibaka (16.0 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 4.5 BPG in series) had another big game for the Thunder with 15 points, 11 boards and five blocks, but the team must get a bigger performance from the bench. In Game 2, the Grizzlies reserves were able to outscore the Thunder bench, 33-14. PG Reggie Jackson (5.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 3.0 APG in series) is the type of player that can have a big night in any given game, but must attack the rim to help open things up for the other players. He was 0-for-5 on Monday, including 0-for-2 from long range. Oklahoma City once again did a great job of protecting the rim (10 blocks), and will need another big defensive performance going up against a Memphis team that will be motivated by its home crowd.

PF Zach Randolph (23.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG in series) did a great job of responding from a disappointing Game 1, finishing with 25 points and six rebounds on Monday. However, he was way more efficient from the field. In the series opener, Randolph connected on just 33% (7-of-21) from the field, but in the second game, he made half his shots (10-of-20 FG). While he lacks the athleticism to out-jump a guy like Serge Ibaka, he has terrific moves on the block and uses his size very well. With C Marc Gasol (16.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 2.0 SPG in series) affecting the game in many different ways, Randolph is able to stay in the paint and do what he does best. Gasol had a well-rounded 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists before foulding out of Game 2. While the inside game of the Grizzlies gets a lot of the talk, PG Mike Conley (17.5 PPG, 11.5 APG, 6.0 RPG) has put together two dominating performances in this series with double-doubles in each game. He does a terrific job of staying under control, and takes what the defense gives him, dishing out 23 assists and just three turnovers this series. SG Courtney Lee (16 points on 6-of-9 FG) and PG Beno Udrih (14 points on 6-of-8 FG) both gave the Grizzlies scoring that they desperately needed on Tuesday night in a game in which both teams recorded single-digit turnovers (Memphis 9, Oklahoma City 8). Just like the Thunder were able to experience in the first two games, the Grizzlies are going to have an electric crowd that could play a huge role in Thursday's matchup.

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