OkC-Memphis Game 6
OKLAHOMA CITY ONE WIN AWAY
FROM DATE WITH DALLAS
By halftime Wednesday Night it was clear that the Oklahoma City Thunder had recovered better from Monday's triple overtime marathon than the Memphis Grizzlies had. After building a nice lead by the break, the Thunder's bench would run away and hide as OK City won a blowout that would give them a 3-2 series lead.
Game Six is tonight, and two very clear possibilities are in play:
*Oklahoma City finishes things off with an outright win as a small road underdog, going for the final knockout against a tough opponent that just couldn't recover from Monday's brutal war.
*Memphis bounces back very strong and forces a Game Seven, possibly helped by Oklahoma City pulling back if they fall behind to save all of their energy for that series finale.
In recent years, the former has become more common. The Lakers were very good this, but other top teams have also figured out how to wrap up a series on the road. Dallas did it in Portland in the first round. But, prior to that, much of the success of betting 'bounce backs' came from the fact that you'd often have alternating laydowns heading into a seventh game. THEN you had the slow-it-down, pound-it-home finish where defense and rebounding clinched the series for the host.
Let's run some numbers and see what we can learn…
GAME SIX: OKLAHOMA CITY at MEMPHIS
Oklahoma City leads 3-2
Vegas Line: Memphis by 2, total of 195.5
Memphis was a 2-point favorite in their other home games, so the market hasn't moved from that assessment. That's a bit odd because both of those games went overtime. That would suggest that pick-em is closer to the right number here. Yes, the games were split straight up with the extra time. Without extra time they were dead heats. The total has dropped a couple of points off the low scoring blowout Wednesday. Note that the last there regulation scores were 172, 192, and 171…so Vegas is still higher than recent form since the tempo has slowed down.
GAME FIVE STATS
OKLAHOMA CITY 99, MEMPHIS 72
Shooting Percentage: Memphis 36%, Oklahoma City 47%
Three-Pointers: Memphis 2/18, Oklahoma City 9/20
Free Throws: Memphis 14/23, Oklahoma City 16/21
Rebounds: Memphis 33, Oklahoma City 50
Turnovers: Memphis 14, Oklahoma City 17
Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 6.5, total of 197
Notebook: We've encouraged you in the past not to spend too much time on stats in blowouts. Remember how bad Atlanta looked in a bad loss at Orlando before they went home and beat Orlando, then went to Chicago and beat Chicago! What you see above is Memphis being exhausted, and not getting much help from its bench. Oklahoma City's starters only scored 17 points in the first quarter themselves. The Thunder bench helped get things rolling, then built on a lead once it was clear Memphis was going to phone in the night. We don't expect Memphis to phone in tonight's game unless they're just shot physically from the postseason grind.
It may be a good sign for Thunder fans that OKC won defense and rebounding handily in this one. Those are obviously key areas in playoff action. This was the first game all series that the Thunder won on the boards. They've now held Memphis to 38%, 36%, and 36% shooting the last three games as well. The influence of Kendrick Perkins is starting to matter more and more.
We're obviously working very closely with our sources to find out what we can about each team's approach to the game. Raw math suggests a line of Memphis -2 is a touch high. Raw math won't matter if Oklahoma City decides to save itself for a home clincher, or if Memphis is toast. What we hear from our sources will determine our team side release. We'll look at the Under because of the recent tendencies in this series, and the likelihood that neither team really wants to push tempo given how grueling things have been so far.
Before talking more about what's available tonight and this weekend, let's finish off the Boston/Miami series which was clinched by the Heat Wednesday Night.
MIAMI 97, BOSTON 87
Shooting Percentage: Boston 49%, Miami 46%
Three-Pointers: Boston 7/15, Miami 7/19
Free Throws: Boston 14/20, Miami 26/38
Rebounds: Boston 30, Miami 38
Turnovers: Boston 17, Miami 9
Vegas Line: Miami by 7.5, total of 181
Notebook: The game wasn't as one-sided as that final score makes it seem. Miami scored the last 16 points of the game to turn a possible home loss into a nice rest break. Once again the Heat marched to the free throw line at home. It's so difficult for defenses to slow down LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. They force you to foul them or get out of the way. Chicago will have some extra bodies off the bench who can come in and foul in the next round. Free throws and rebounds were the big difference makers on paper. But, those by themselves weren't going to be enough until the Heat hit THREE very late three-pointers. You CAN contain Miami. Just make sure you do it for 48 minutes instead of 45!
It's hard to know for sure how well the Heat are playing right now. First round victim Philadelphia was barely a playoff caliber team this year. Boston tried to win with the walking wounded, and actually outscored Miami by 6 in regulation the last three games even with Rajon Rondo playing with one arm and half the roster in traction during timeouts. Is Miami the best team in the NBA? Would Miami be a top four team in the West? The answers will be unfolding slowly but surely over the next several days.
Tonight, the focus is on Game Six of the Oklahoma City/Memphis series. At least one BIG JUICY WINNER from JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK in that game is available right now for credit card purchase here at the website. You can also purchase the very best from Friday Night's baseball card.
Saturday in the NOTEBOOK will be devoted to baseball because there's no NBA on the schedule. We'll catch up with the Red Sox and Yankees since they'll be featured in prime time games Saturday on FOX and Sunday on ESPN. Other matchups we're paying a lot of attention to this weekend are Philadelphia/Atlanta, St. Louis/Cincinnati, and LA Angels/Texas.
Sunday, it's back to basketball. Because Oprah Winfrey needs the Bulls arena Monday and Tuesday, we know for sure there will be a game in the Windy City on Sunday. And, by the time you read this, you'll know whether that's Game Seven of Atlanta/Chicago, or Game One of Miami/Chicago. Either way, we'll have a preview, and we'll talk about JIM HURLEY'S plans for that game. And, if Memphis wins tonight's game with OKC, then Sunday will ALSO include Game Seven from that entertaining series.
IT'S A GREAT TIME TO BE A SPORTS FAN!
The NBA Playoffs have been the most entertaining we've seen in years, and we're not even to the Conference Finals yet. The Preakness and Belmont are still ahead in Triple Crown horse racing. And, Major League Baseball has been a gold mine for sharp handicappers who know how to pick their spots.
Stop reading about how much money other people are making. DON'T SAY ON THE SIDELINES, GET IN THE GAME!
This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.
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