The Memphis Grizzlies turned a lot of heads when they rallied back from down two games in their Western Conference quarterfinal series to knock off the favored Los Angeles Clippers. The victory was a satisfying one, as it was against the same L.A. club that bounced them from the postseason in 2012. Now, with the Oklahoma City Thunder on the table, Memphis will need to find a way to beat the NBA odds all over again.
Fittingly, the Grizz have a bone to pick with Kevin Durant and OKC, as well. While the Clippers were responsible for Memphis’ 2012 demise, it was the Thunder pulling the trigger on their playoff run back in 2011. Don’t think that Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and company have forgotten.
After falling to the Thunder in Game 1 over the weekend, Memphis managed to turn things around and steal a victory on the road in Game 2. The win effectively transferred home-court advantage from the No. 1 team in the Western Conference to the scrappy Grizz.
In elementary terms, it’s a race for three wins now, and three of the remaining five games will be played in Tennessee.
What’s more, the Thunder have been, and will continue to be, without superstar point guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook’s torn meniscus couldn’t have come at a worse time for the reigning Western Conference champions, as their second-round opponent has made a name for themselves overachieving and humbling top-caliber competition.
The circumstances have aligned as such that Memphis has effectively leapfrogged the Thunder in the eyes of fans, critics and oddsmakers alike. Their 10-1 odds of winning the championship sit higher on the list of NBA futures than OKC’s 18-1.
Randolph’s 19.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game have paced the Grizzlies thus far, but their attack has been a balanced one. Center Marc Gasol’s 18.5 points and Conley’s 17.9 have given head coach Lionel Hollins more than enough options to help put points on the board.
Veteran Tony Allen as well has emerged as an immeasurably valuable asset in the playoffs — someone who basketball purists can appreciate but who may not get the recognition he deserves in the box score.
Still, if it seems bold to consider the Grizzlies favorites against OKC, that’s because it is. That’s what makes this postseason such a fascinating one. Though the Thunder are no doubt weakened by Westbrook’s absence, they still boast MVP-caliber forward Kevin Durant and a competent supporting cast.
Pull up a chair, sit back and enjoy. It’s playoff time.
This post is presented by Bovada
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