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It was awfully unpredictable to think that the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies would be playing each other in the second round of the playoffs, but that’s where we are at. One of these two will beat the NBA playoffs odds and make it to the NBA Finals, and we have our postseason NBA picks for this crucial series.
How the Grizzlies Can Win This Series
The Grizz have really had a very predictable formula for beating the NBA odds thus far in the playoffs. They’re just going to work really, really hard, win all of the hustle stats, make a few timely shots, and come up clutch in the end. That was the only way that they were able to beat a San Antonio Spurs team that truly outclassed them in the first round of the playoffs, yet the series really never was all that close.
The question is whether the stars are going to be there to keep up with the scoring prowess of the Thunder. Zach Randolph could get away with 20-25 point games making him the top scorer against the Spurs, but that just won’t be the case against the Thunder. We really don’t see anyone else being able to step up and knock down 10 shots in a game on a regular basis, which really puts a lot of pressure on the man in the middle. In fairness, Randolph did have 31 points in the close out game against the Spurs, so he definitely is capable, but pulling it off again and again against Oklahoma City is a different story.
Mike Conley Jr. did just about everything for the Grizz in the first round, accounting for right around 14 points, six assists, and four boards per game. Marc Gasol was the double-double machine with just over 14 points and a dozen rebounds on the average night. These two will have to be clutch, and someone else will have to come forward on a regular basis, whether it be OJ Mayo, Darrell Arthur, Sam Young, or an unheralded hero for Memphis to march on to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history.
How the Thunder Can Win This Series
The equation is now absolutely right for the Thunder. Sure, looking at the stats for Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammad isn’t all that impressive, but these two really have brought a toughness to the defense for Oklahoma City in the paint, and the end result was holding one of the best offensive teams in the game below its scoring average in five straight games.
Last season, there was really only Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the playoffs. Sure, Jeff Green and James Harden did their thing from time to time against the eventual champs, the Los Angeles Lakers, but if Westbrook and Durant didn’t get the job done, no one was really able to. Now, it’s true that these two are the big time heroes of this team once again. Durant averaged 32.4 points per game, while Westbrook was at 23.8 points per game against the Nuggets. However, they were definitely not the only stars that were able to shine.
Serge Ibaka was really the man that came up big, and if he dominates both on the glass and in the blocks department the same way that he did against Denver, it’s all over but the crying for the Grizzlies. Ibaka scored 10.2 points, brought down 11.0 boards, and blocked 4.8 shots per game in the series against Denver.
The Last Word – Memphis definitely has the ability to compete in this series, and it will find itself favored in games on its home court assuming that the Thunder don’t just absolutely roll with two easy wins in the Sooner State to get started. Don’t be shocked if this ends up being a heck of a lot better of a series than it is billed for. Both of these teams are going to fight tooth and nail, but in the end, it’s home court advantage that will rule the day. NBA Playoffs Picks: Thunder in 7