MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (52-34)
at OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (61-25)
NBA Playoffs - Western Conference First Round
Game 5 - Series tied 2-2
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -6, Total: 186.5
After playing three straight overtime games, the Thunder and Grizzlies square off in a pivotal Game 5 on Tuesday night with the winner gaining a 3-2 lead in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Oklahoma City squandered a 14-point lead on Saturday night, but was able to come back and win Game 4, 92-89 in overtime. Through the first three games this series, the team was relying way too much on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Those two once again struggled from the field, but PG Reggie Jackson scored a playoff career-high 32 points with nine rebounds, and made all the plays down the stretch to get the victory. A big reason why the Thunder were able to get the victory was the domination on the glass, as the team outrebounded Memphis, 58-49 with 20 offensive boards. This series has been extremely competitive, and free throws will likely play a huge role in the game. On Saturday, the Thunder were able to connect on 90% FT (18-of-20), while the Grizzlies made a dismal 57% FT (13-of-23). Memphis has dominated inside throughout the series in the first three games, but posted a mere 40-36 advantage in points in the paint for Game 4. Memphis has to hit better from the three-point line (6-of-20 on Saturday), to help open things up for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in the post. This club is also a mere 6-23 ATS (21%) after three straight games of committing 14 or less turnovers this season, but is also 27-14 ATS (66%) versus very good teams (6+ PPG margin) in the past two seasons. While the Grizzlies are an excellent team on two days' rest this season (10-5-1 ATS), it is a pedestrian 24-19 SU (20-21-2 ATS) on the road and 10-15 SU (12-13 ATS) as road underdogs. Oklahoma City is 35-8 SU (24-18-1 ATS) at home this season, but is just 32-28 ATS after an SU win and 34-34-2 ATS when favored. There are no significant injuries for either team.
Marc Gasol (17.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 4.3 APG this series) had another big performance for the Grizzlies in Game 4, leading the team with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while adding four assists and two blocks. He continues to dominate from the free-throw line extended, opening up opportunities for teammates in the paint. One of those guys was SG Tony Allen (12.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 2.0 SPG this series), who finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday's loss. He was especially dominant on the offensive glass, grabbing 10 offensive rebounds. But if the Grizzlies are going to win this series, they are going to have to get a more out of star PF Zach Randolph (18.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.3 APG this series). While those numbers arenít bad, he has shot only 36% from the field, which is a far cry from his 47% FG clip during the regular season. The athleticism of Serge Ibaka and physicality of Kendrick Perkins has given Randolph a lot of problems. SF Mike Miller (5.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG this series) and SG Courtney Lee (10.8 PPG on 46% FG in series) are the two best 3-point shooters on the team, and they connected on 4-of-11 from deep in Game 4. Saturday was a struggle for PG Mike Conley (17.3 PPG, 9.0 APG, 5.3 RPG, 2.3 APG this series), who finished with 14 points on a woeful 5-of-16 from the field and 0-6 from three-point range. The Grizzlies missed a golden opportunity with the Thunder stars struggling, and they can't bank on them having another poor performance again.
Oklahoma City SF Kevin Durant (28.5 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 4.5 APG, 2.3 BPG, 1.3 SPG in series) and PG Russell Westbrook (24.3 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.3 SPG in series) combined to score only 30 points in Game 4 on a brutal 11-of-45 FG (24%) and 2-of-13 threes. The duo had more turnovers (12) than shots made from the field (11). The fact that the Thunder were able to get the victory with their two stars struggling so much, is a huge accomplishment. But despite the poor shooting, each contributed greatly in other ways, as Durant grabbed 13 rebounds with four assists, two blocks and two steals, while Westbrook finished with nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals. PG Reggie Jackson (11.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG in series) has shown the ability to dominate a game, and he chose the right night to do this. He was able to get his 32 points on only 16 shots (11-of-16 FG), while knocking down all eight of his free-throw attempts. He is similar to Westbrook in the fact that he can get to the rim often, and he also played terrific defense against Conley. PF Serge Ibaka (14.0 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.5 BPG in series) posted a strong double-double of 12 points, 14 rebounds (5 offensive) and had five of his team's 11 blocked shots. C Kendrick Perkins (4.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG in series) is not putting up huge numbers, but he has been huge for the Thunder in terms of defending Randolph. Reserve SF Caron Butler (4.5 PPG on 27% FG in series) was able to hit two three-pointers from the outside, and will need to continue to knock down long-range jumpers to help open up more driving lanes for Westbrook and Durant.