Grizzlies Thunder Game 6

NBA PLAYOFF UPDATE
PLUS NFL SCHEDULING NOTES

By Jim Hurley:

The survive-and-advance world of the NBA has been cruel on the league's two most iconic franchises these past few days:

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics- who've collided in two of the previous three NBA Finals, not to mention all those other title showdowns in years gone past (see 1960s and 1980s)- are now officially history in this year's playoffs and so there will be some fresh blood in the championship round no matter who gets there later this month or in early June.

One of the teams that has eyes on a crown right here and right now is the Oklahoma City Thunder and they enter this evening's Game #6 at Memphis with one thought in mind:

Play like you did in Game #5!

Oklahoma City's resoundingly easy 99-72 win against the 6-point underdog Grizzlies didn't need any silly overtime session (or two or three, for that matter) but rather was key in that ace scorer Kevin Durant only had to log 31 minutes while mercurial point guard Russell Westbrook played just 25 minutes in the route- it's a fresh Okie City team that ventures into the Volunteer State for this slugfest and we'll get to the one-and-only game on the Friday night dance card in just a moment but first two quick-hitter items:

First of all- and as usually is the case- the Favorites vs. Underdogs tote board is close to break-even in this year's NBA Playoffs despite the fact the pups were running wild in the first couple of weeks of post-season play. Following the Wednesday night hoop results- Miami's electric 97-87"front-door" victory against 7 ½-point underdog Boston along with Oklahoma City's aforementioned win/cover against Memphis- NBA Playoff Betting Favorites stood at 28-32-2 ATS (against the spread) for a .467 winning rate for the chalk sides.

In fact, here's the round-by-round breakdown through May 11th:

1ST ROUND

FAVS

DOGS

PUSH

PCT

 

15

26

2

.366

 

2ND ROUND

FAVS

DOGS

PUSH

PCT

 

13

6

0

.684

Is it merely been a case of the"cream rising to the top" or did the usual law of averages simply rearing its head here?

In any event, the Betting Favorites have made a big-time comeback in the NBA Playoffs and we'll continue to monitor all the pointspread news and notes in the coming days/weeks.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NBA Playoffs and all the Major-League Baseball winners each and every day when you either call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else when you go online right here. Check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday afternoon Baseball games; after 1 p.m. ET for all the NBA and MLB weeknight games; and, of course, anytime after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays.

THE NBA PLAYOFFS- IT'S A GAME #6 IN MEMPHIS

Here's the lone NBA Playoff tilt on the Friday night menu:
   
WESTERN CONFERENCE- OKLAHOMA CITY at MEMPHIS- Thunder leads series 3-2

If there is a reason for the back-to-the-wall Grizzlies to be very concerned here it's this:

Big men Zack Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for just 24 points in that Game #5 loss and neither fellow exactly had his"legs" save for a short stretch in the third quarter when Gasol (15 points and 5 rebounds in 31 minutes of action) caught a second wind. It could well be that Memphis' big bodies simply have lost too much tread off the tire here in a series that's featured a single-overtime tilt in Game #3 and that epic triple-OT battle back in Game #4 played earlier this week.

No doubt that Memphis didn't take advantage of Okie City's sluggish start in Game #5- the Thunder missed its first seven FG tries and turned the ball over nine times in the first frame alone but- as Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins put it, his team kept"shooting themselves in the foot" every time there was an opportunity to grow an early-game lead.

It appears that Memphis will have to get big-time offensive games here from the likes of perimeter players Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo and Sam Young but the bad news is that triumvirate finished Game #5 shooting a composite 8-of-29 from the floor (that's an ugly .276 accuracy rate). Memphis canned just 2-of-8 triples in Game #5 and- even though that's not a huge part of the Grizzlies' game- this eighth-seeded Western Conference club must get some more scoring from"distance" just to match the likes of Durant and Westbrook.

One major item to watch for here:

Oklahoma City sported a 50-to-33 rebounding advantage in that last game (reserve forward Nick Collison's 10 boards led the way and were quite significant) and the"Grizz" can't afford to lose the glass war at all here- it says here that Randolph and Gasol better have the legs to get 20 boards between 'em ... or else!
   
Now, here's the game-by-game look for Thunder-Grizzlies while heading into tonight's Game #6:

DATE

FAV

SPREAD

RESULT

5-1

OKLAHOMA CITY

- 7

Memphis 114-101

5-3

OKLAHOMA CITY

- 6.5

OKLAHOMA CITY 111-102

5-7

MEMPHIS

- 2.5

MEMPHIS 101-93(ot)

5-9

MEMPHIS

- 2

Oklahoma City 133-123(3ot)

5-11

OKLAHOMA CITY

- 6

OKLAHOMA CITY 99-72

NFL NEWS & NOTES- CHECKIN' OUT THE 2011 SKEDS FOR THE EAGLES, TEXANS & BUCS

PHILADELPHIA - One thing that jumps right out at you regarding the Eagles' upcoming schedule is that this NFC East crew doesn't leave its backyard for an entire month beginning with a Week 7 bye (that's Oct. 23rd) as back-to-back-to-back home games against Dallas, Chicago and Arizona follow the open week. Overall, the Birds play three different sets of back-to-back road games but none figures to be tougher than the Week 1 and 2 tilts in St. Louis and Atlanta- will Andy Reid's gang sign for a split of these games right now? Hey, note that Philly plays the AFC East this season but the Eagles will host both New England and the New York Jets while visiting Buffalo and Miami- a major venue break if you ask us!

HOUSTON- Last year's Texans won just six games overall and didn't win a single road game after early-season away conquests in Washington and Oakland and so a quickie look at the road sked this year shows non-divisional games in Miami, New Orleans, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati ... could be very tough sledding again, right? Note that Houston hosts five non-playoff teams from a year ago including"gimmes" against Cleveland (Nov. 6th) and Carolina (Dec. 18th) and two of the Texans' three AFC South road games come after a late-in-the-year Week 11 bye (at Jacksonville on Nov. 27th) and at Indianapolis (Dec. 22nd) and that latter game occurs on a Thursday night and so it's short week-plus-travel for 'em here. The NFL rates the Texans as playing the 10th-toughest sked this year with opponents having compiled a 132-124 record in 2010.

TAMPA BAY- Much was made of the fact that the 2010 Bucs didn't beat a whole lot of winning teams en route to a surprising 10-6 season and this 2011 sked features nine teams that didn't make it to the post-season a year ago. Overall, Tampa Bay faces a very challenging late-season menu that includes five road games during a seven-week stretch between Nov. 20th and Jan. 1st and the toughest stop figures to be the Nov. 20th tilt in Green Bay but note the Bucs finish up with divisional road games in Carolina and Atlanta on Christmas Eve and New Year's Day, respectively. The Bucs' bye comes in Week 8 and so that means an extra prep week for the game in New Orleans but do keep in mind T-Bay plays Chicago in the annual London game in Week 7. Tally ho!

NOTE: Get more NBA Playoff News & Notes plus MLB action too in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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