Saturday features three game sevens in the first round of the NBA playoffs. In one of the matchups, the Memphis Grizzlies visit the Oklahoma City Thunder, in their Western Conference showdown with the winner moving on to the conference semifinals and the loser going home for the summer.
Odds makers at Bovada and sportsbook.com have made Oklahoma City the 9-point favorite, while topbeat and betonline have the point total for the game sitting on 185.5.
The Thunder will look to take advantage of Memphis not having All-Star forward Zach Randolph in the lineup after he was suspended by league officials for throwing a punch in Game 6 of the series.
The Thunder forced a Game 7 with a 108-84 rout on the road Thursday in Memphis. Not only do the Grizzlies have to worry about filling a huge hole literally and figuratively for the loss of Randolph, they have to worry about Mike Conley their point guard who strained his hamstring in the loss on Thursday.
Conley will dress and play, but will not be anywhere near 100%. In Game 6, The Thunder’s Kevin Durant responded to harsh criticism in the local press by scoring 36 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
The Thunder also changed their starting lineup by adding veteran Caron Butler and sitting Thabo Sefolosha. That gave Durant more space on the court and allowed point guard Russell Westbrook to drive to the hoop.
Over the last three seasons, Memphis is 14-7 against the number, including covering in 9 of 12 road games, when playing Oklahoma City. However, this season, on the road overall, the Grizzlies are just 21-21-2.
Oklahoma City this season at home is 35-9 straight up and 24-19-1 against the spread according to data from betonline.
Memphis has been able to control the tempo for much of the regular season, but will need to do that much better tonight than they did in Game 6 if they hope to win and move on.
More pressure will be put on Marc Gasol the Grizzlies center with Randolph out suspended.
Gasol for the series is scoring 16 points per game and hauling down nearly 9 rebounds. However, on offensive he needs to pick it up a notch to make up for the 18 points that Randolph scores each game.
Memphis could not stop Westbrook form attacking the rim in Game 6 and look for more of that in Game 7 with Conley nursing a sore hamstring. If Conley cannot play many minutes, the Grizzlies must play Beno Udrih, who has averaged just 16 minutes a game during the series.
The Thunder not only is playing at home in a Game 7 but against a depleted roster for the Grizzlies.
Pick: Oklahoma City 105-93