If you think Oklahoma City is favored to win this series, despite the fact Russell Westbrook is out, you're dead wrong.
The Grizzlies are the NBA betting odds favorites at -135 to advance, with the Thunder trading at +115.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Finding out just how hard life is without their second-best player, Oklahoma City was pushed to the limit in their opening-round series against the Houston Rockets.
The Thunder were finally able to close things out in Game 6 in Houston, a couple nights after losing Game 5 on their home floor. Kevin Durant was orchestrating the entire offense and Kevin Martin finally stepped it up when it mattered most.
The worrying part? The Thunder found it hard to score at times, and this was against a Houston team that was ranked #29 in scoring defense during the regular season. That's not a good look for your squad when you next have to face arguably the best defensive team in the NBA in Memphis.
Thankfully for OKC, they've got the second-best player in the league and he's proven he can lead this team to wins without his sidekick. Durant averaged 32.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 6.0 APG during the first-round series.
Reggie Jackson played very well in Westbrook's stead as well. He averaged 14.0/3.8/3.5 in the series and put up 17 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds in the clinching game in Houston.
Other role players did their thing too, including Serge Ibaka, Derek Fisher, and Nick Collison. Ibaka had averages of 13.0 PPG and 8.3 RPG, Fisher made numerous huge plays on both ends of the court, and Collison came up big (10 points and nine rebounds) in Game 6
It was a very impressive series for the Grizzlies, who defeated the Clippers as underdogs in a hard-fought six games. Memphis stole one away in L.A. and never really looked threatened on their home floor in Games 3, 4, and 6.
There are two areas where the Grizzlies excel. They can completely dominate on the defensive end and they can kill you inside with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Randolph was the star of the show in the first round, averaging team-highs in points (20.8) and rebounds (8.0). Gasol provided his usual dose of leadership and heart in the heart of the paint, averaging a team-high 39.0 minutes in the series.
That's not all. It seemed like everyone on Memphis' active roster made some key contributions. Mike Conley averaged 17.3 PPG and 8.3 APG for the series and Tony Allen score in double figures in four of the six matchups.
Then there's veteran Tayshaun Prince, Jerryd Bayless, and Quincy Pondexter, all of whom hit big shots. Even Darrell Arthur and Keyon Dooling got in on the action.
The Grizzlies were able to overcome one superstar in Chris Paul, but Durant is going to offer up a different set of challenges here in the conference semi-finals. That said, if there's any team out there that can deal with KD, it's Memphis.
Game 1 Odds
Forget about near double-digit spreads. This series is going to feature a lot of small NBA betting lines and that's certainly true for Game 1.
The Thunder have opened as three-point favorites, but there's always a chance the numbers will move before tipoff.
The total is at 186.5 at most online sportsbooks, for those who are considering betting the total for their NBA picks.Also, check out the Series Odds for the Knicks vs. Pacers, here!~