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Series Odds: Memphis -125 – Oklahoma City +105
Odds are provided by Bovada, one of the world’s top sportsbooks and our choice for NBA betting.
Two familiar Western Conference foes meet in a series that is likely to be a slugfest. Two years ago both of these teams met in a Western Conference semifinal series that went to seven games – one that Oklahoma City finished on top.
The season series against with these teams has been tough and exciting. Both teams combined for nine technical fouls in three meetings. Memphis took two out of three meetings from the Thunder, losing in Oklahoma City a few days after they sent Rudy Gay to Toronto.
Both teams had tough first round matchups to reach the next round. The Grizzlies were pushed to the brink early by the Los Angeles Clippers but came back to win four straight games after going down 0-2. The No. 1 seeded Thunder also had their fair sure of frustration with the Houston Rockets. Former teammate James Harden made it rough on the Thunder after they lost Russell Westbrook for the rest of the playoffs with a knee injury. Oklahoma City finally finished off Houston in six games on Friday.
Without Westbrook and perhaps partly based on matchups, the Thunder played a mostly small lineup against the Rockets, which was extremely effective against a similarly small Houston team.
That may not work against the Grizzlies. Memphis was more than competent against the small team the Clippers ran against them and is a terrific rebounding team. The tandem of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph is one of the NBA’s best frontcourts – not only in scoring, but with their defense and rebounding. How the Grizzlies respond when the Thunder play their smaller lineup will be a massive factor in how this series turns out.
Russell Westbrook’s absence is a massive detriment to the Thunder’s chances in the playoffs. Though Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson have been playing well in his absence, Westbrook is a monumental matchup problem for opposing defenses that is no longer there. Durant is now forced to play 40+ minutes every night and shoulder the vast majority of the scoring load.
Also, Memphis will not have to use Tony Allen on Westbrook to try and shut him down offensively. Point guard Mike Conley can easily guard the Fisher/Jackson combo, and Allen can try to limit the Thunder’s secondary perimeter options in Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Martin. They will also be able to rotate more bodies on Durant without having to worry about shadowing Westbrook.
The loss of Russell Westbrook could have been the nail in the coffin for the Thunder in this year’s playoff, despite them advancing past Houston. Memphis, especially at this point is the more balanced team. Although they don’t have home court advantage or one of the NBA’s best players, we think Memphis has more than enough to get it done against the defending Western Conference Champions.
As small favorites of -125, at this price we especially love the Memphis Grizzlies as a series bet.
Our Play: Memphis -125 at Bovada.lv
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