The Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder will square off in the Playoffs for the 3rd time in the last 4 years. Oklahoma City defeated Memphis in 7 games back in the 2011 Semifinals, and Memphis defeated an injury riddled Oklahoma City team in 5 games during the 2013 Semifinals.
Mike Conley vs. Russell Westbrook – Mike Conley is averaging a career high 17.1 ppg while also shooting career high 44.9% from the floor. Conley had a PER this season of 20.10. Russell Westbrook is shooting 43.9% from the floor in 45 games played this season, averaging 21.2 ppg, 6.9 assists and 5.8 rebounds.
Courtney Lee vs. Thabo Sefolosha – This is quite an intriguing match up. Since coming over from The Celtics, Courtney Lee is averaging 11 ppg, 1.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds. He’s averaging 3.4 more ppg for the Grizzlies than he did with the Celtics. His offensive prowess will be needed against The Thunder. Sefolosha is having an off season. Thabo is shooting 41.5% from the field, which is 3% below his career average. He’s averaging only 6.3 ppg and 3.6 rebounds.
Tayshaun Prince vs. Kevin Durant: There’s no debate here. Tayshaun Prince is an aging player playing his worst basketball during his tenure in the NBA. He’s averaging 6 ppg, which is 6 below his career average. Career lows in shooting and rebounding also hurt the Grizzlies. The only thing the Grizzlies can hope to rely on is his defense. Kevin Durant is averaging over 31 ppg this season and will likely run away with the MVP. He has 14 40 point games this season. Most since Kobe in 2006-2007.
Grizzlies Front court vs. Thunder Front court – Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol reigning defensive player of the year have played well together when they’re both on the court. The other day it was noted that the Grizzlies are 40-19 when both of them are on the court together. Randolph averaged a double-double on the season with 17.1 ppg and 10 rebounds. Marc Gasol was stellar this year when not injured. He averaged over 14 ppg and 8 rebounds.
The Grizzlies gave up over 97 ppg during his injury and that dropped to 92 ppg when he was healthy. The Grizzlies could have a tough time stopping Serge Ibaka during the playoffs. He’s shot 50.8% this year against Memphis going for 15 ppg and 9 rebounds. Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams haven’t done their due diligence for The Thunder this season. Rookie Steven Adams is averaging 3.4 ppg and 4 rebounds while Perkins has a career low in shooting percentage, points and rebounds.
X-Factor - Caron Butler for the Thunder and Tony Allen for the Grizzlies.
Prediction – It’s hard not to bring bias into this, but I still predict Grizzlies in 6.