Gamethread at 8:00. Be there!
Time: 8:00 PM Central Daylight Time
Place: The Fedex Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
TV: Entertainment Sports Programming Network
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), Soul Classics 103.5 FM WRBO
As I prepare for my final exams today, I don't feel stressed. Obviously, I have prepared as I should, and exams still are still a huge pain. But as I walk around campus, at least every tenth person is wearing a Thunder shirt. Whether it be a T-Shirt, jersey, or polo, there's a lot of Thunder support being shown today. I've seen more Thunder shirts than OU shirts today, and I'm in Norman!
It's nice to see the state united by one team. But there's still some basketball to be played. And that basketball is to be played in Memphis. After the Thunder won a dramatic triple overtime affair in Game Four, they rolled over Memphis in Game Five, making it appear as if the Thunder are set to win the series. But the Grizzlies aren't going down without a fight. The Thunder aren't going to be able to completely shut down Memphis offensively two games in a row. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will find ways to score and give each other assists, while the guards know they must take some of the scoring burden.
If the Thunder are to win tonight though, they can't have another slow start. They were lucky to have the home crowd and the momentum on their side in Game Five, but it took three overtimes to truly overcome the Grizzlies in Game Four, and nobody wants this game going down to the final seconds in Memphis.
Also, they should hope that the Grizzlies stick with their strategy of keeping Tony Allen on Russell Westbrook. Mike Conley didn't stop Westbrook from scoring, but he provided the quickness that provided for steals and stalling the offense. That's much more invaluable than the couple baskets Tony Allen might prevent. In all honesty, that judgement might have cost the Grizzlies Game 5.
Expect another slow, grinding game with stretches of NBA JAM-like offense and stretches where there's no scoring at all. The Thunder should end up winning this one with a final fourth quarter rally. I know I predicted Memphis to win the series, but it took a total offensive collapse by the Thunder for them to win Game Three, and Zach Randolph hasn't shown up in a long time. This is a team that's without a star, without a trump card, and with its' pants down. They can still come back and win, but the odds are heavily against them. Thunder to the Western Conference Finals.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 97, Memphis 89