The NBA has practically guaranteed a Oklahoma City Thunder playoff birth today as Zach Randolph has been suspended from a pivotal Game 7. Randolph gave a shot to Steven Adams in the late minutes of Game 6′s blowout in Memphis. Considering the hit Adams gave Marc Gasol in the face earlier in the game, this suspension comes as a shocker to the Grizzlies fanbase. The move will allow the Thunder to hold a huge advantage going in with Mike Conley already injured (strained hamstring) as well.
All eyes will be on Marc Gasol and an emergence by Mike Miller. Without Randolph’s post play the Grizzlies will be significantly weakened. If the Grizzlies lose this will most likely be the end of the team as the Grizzlies fanbase currently know it. The team might be completely revamped and we might have witnessed the end of the Zach Randolph/Marc Gasol tandem that has fostered back strong post and defensive play.
The shot would have been overlooked in other NBA eras. However, we now live in an era where wagging your finger has to be done to the crowd and not an opposing player to avoid a technical. Fans in OKC might be happy they’re going to the second round but there will always be the ‘what if’ Randolph had played. A horrible decision by the NBA. Zach Randolph has had a solid first round showing against the Thunder averaging 18.2 points and 8.7 rebounds.
The team will now have to depend on strong play by Gasol, Miller, and a strong showing from James Johnson who had a great showing in Game 6 despite the Grizzlies overall loss. Udrih will also need perfect play to offset possibly restricted minutes for Mike Conley, who was noticeably limping on the floor and had to be walked to the back after a collusion with Caron Butler in midcourt. Free Zach Randolph.