There is an unlikely matchup in the Western Conference semifinals between eighth-seed Memphis and fourth-seed Oklahoma City. Both teams have roots in the Pacific Northwest, with the Grizzlies relocating from Vancouver in 2001. The Thunder were originally the Seattle SuperSonics before moving in 2008.
Memphis became just the second eighth-seed to upset at top-seed since the NBA expanded the opening-round series to a best-of-seven. Things were so futile for this franchise that the Grizzlies were 0-12 in the postseason before this series.
Oklahoma City is also wading into uncharted postseason territory. This franchise had not won a playoff series since 2005 when it called Seattle home. The Thunder advanced to the postseason last year only to lose in the opening round to the eventual-champion Los Angeles Lakers in six games.
Don Best's Real-Time Odds opened Oklahoma City as seven-point home ‘chalk’ over Memphis in Sunday’s Game 1, with the total set at 195. ABC Sports will provide coverage of the opener beginning at 10:05 a.m. PT from Oklahoma City Arena.
The Thunder enter this series as a 6/1 selection to win the NBA Finals, while the Grizzlies are a 50/1 long shot.
Memphis dispatched San Antonio by winning Friday’s Game 6 as a 3 ½-point home favorite, 99-91, while the combined 190 points slithered ‘over’ the 189-point closing total. The ‘over’ has now cashed in the Grizzlies’ last three outings, but Friday’s outing only eclipsed the total because the Spurs fouled repeatedly towards the end of the game to stop the clock.
Memphis controlled the contest by leading San Antonio in rebounding, 43-32, and points in the paint, 62-38, while the Spurs delivered more assists, 15-12. The Grizzlies shot a robust 52 percent (38-of-73) from the field, but a dismal 11 percent (1-of-9) from behind the arc.
Power forward Zach Randolph led all scorers with 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting, while also grabbing 11 rebounds. At one point in the fourth quarter, Randolph scored 17 of the teams’ 29 points. Center Marc Gasol stepped up with 12 and 13, while shooting guard Tony Allen added 11 and four steals.
Oklahoma City needed five games to eliminate fifth-seed Denver, closing out the series last Wednesday as seven-point home ‘chalk,’ 100-97. The combined 197 points failed to topple the 204 ½-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ improve 3-0-1 the previous four outings.
The Thunder entered the fourth quarter trailing by four points before outscoring the Nuggets, 28-21. Both teams distributed 16 assists in the outing, while Oklahoma City dominated the game in rebounding, 51-38.
Forward Kevin Durant controlled the contest with 41 points on 14-of-27 shooting, scoring Oklahoma City’s final nine points. Point guard Russell Westbrook added 14 in the triumph, while center Kendrick Perkins contributed 11 points and nine boards.
Memphis went 3-1 straight up and against the spread against Oklahoma City during the regular season, with the ‘over’ cashing each time. The Grizzlies prevailed Jan. 4 as a one-point home underdog, 110-105, Feb. 8 in overtime as a 7 ½-point road ‘dog, 105-101, and March 7 as a three-point home favorite, 107-101.
The Thunder's only triumph came Jan. 8 as 6 ½-point home ‘chalk,’ 109-100. The lowest total for any of those contest was 198 ½.
Memphis forward Rudy Gay is ‘out’ the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury. Oklahoma City has no significant injuries to report for Game 1.