Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 7:00 AM
For much of Monday Night’s Game Four of the Oklahoma City/Memphis series, it looked like the Thunder were about to even things up. They jumped to a big 17-point lead in the first half. They were getting offensive contributions from somebody besides Kevin Durant (in addition to Durant’s strong play), and they were winning the battle of the boards…which is always important against the Griz.
But, it came crashing down in the fourth quarter:
*Durant got tired, and started missing shots
*Nobody else stepped up to contribute consistent scoring
*The coaching staff didn’t come up with anything more than rudimentary sets
Memphis rallied to take a lead, then a see-saw finish ended in a regulation tie. Memphis pulled away from tired OKC to vulture a cover with a 6-point win as a 5-point favorite.
Did that end the Thunder season for all intents and purposes? Sure, they’re favorites of -3.5 points in Game Five. But, they’d have to win THREE-IN-A-ROW against a team that they haven’t shown any ability to outplay over 48 full minutes. We’ve seen coin flips. We’ve seen Memphis win by six in regulation twice (once at each site). We haven’t seen anything from OKC that would suggest they can do more than force a coin flip. Tough to win three in a row that way…
OKLAHOMA CITY AT MEMPHIS
Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 3.5, total of 185
Memphis Leads 3-1
Oddsmakers still won’t budge much from their Power Ratings on Memphis. Even though Memphis has covered every game in this series AND covered the last five games of the prior series. It’s true, though, that the Grizzlies were lucky to cover Game Four. Maybe the Vegas line is about to get in better sync with reality. Or, maybe Memphis will take a game off so they can go all out to finish off the series at home on Friday. Confident teams have been known to do that (some lived to regret it!)
Here’s what’s happened so far…
Average Result: Memphis by 2.5 in regulation
Average Total: 183 in regulation
It’s tough to justify a line of OKC given that data…or the fact that they haven’t even won a game by three points since Russell Westbrook got hurt.
Oklahoma City (-11) beat Houston 105-102
Oklahoma City (-8.5) lost to Houston 107-100
Oklahoma City (-3) beat Memphis 93-91
Oklahoma City (-2.5) lost to Memphis 99-93
You get the sense that…if Memphis shows up, they’re going to cover that spread and they have a very good chance of finishing off the series against a tired, beat up OKC team that might throw in the towel. This team was dreaming championship before the Westbrook injury. Now, it seems pretty obvious that isn’t going to happen. If Memphis takes the night off, then OKC may coast to a cover before going to war Friday to stay alive.
JIM HURLEY knows that understanding strategy and motivation on a nightly basis is one of the biggest keys to beating the NBA. You don’t want to bet on a team that’s given up. You don’t want to bet on a team that’s giving themselves a temporary breather. He’s been working very closely with his sources to make sure he has the right read in this game. You can purchase the best play in Grizzlies/Thunder and Bulls/Heat right here at the website with your credit card.
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Back with you Thursday for Game Five of San Antonio/Golden State. There might not be any basketball Friday if both Memphis and Miami wrap things up Wednesday Night! If so, we’ll have a special baseball report, then come back Saturday with what’s likely to be a Game Six preview in New York/Indiana (unless the Pacers sweep Games Four and Five to advance).
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