Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 2, 2014 at 7:00 PM
The Saturday NBA slate is loaded with THREE dramatic Game Seven finishes. This week we’ve already talked about Atlanta/Indiana and Golden State/LA Clippers. That means it’s natural to focus on #2 seed Western seed Oklahoma City hosting #7 seed Memphis in a “loser leaves the playoffs” showdown.
The big news here of course was the media coverage of Kevin Durant heading into Game Six. His local newspaper dubbed him “Mr. Unreliable” because he hadn’t been shooting well this series. While it’s true that Durant had been below his norms, it’s important to remember that:
*He was being guarded by great defenders
*He was often being double-teamed
*He was being asked to carry way too big a load
*He was clearly showing signs of fatigue from playing too many regular season minutes
That newspaper headline could have blasted Coach Scott Brooks for poor schematics and minute distribution…could have blasted Durant’s Thunder teammates for doing so little to help him get free, and doing such a poor job themselves of carrying any load…or could have celebrated the Memphis defense for what it’s accomplished in this series, and the past two seasons when healthy.
This is why we tell you not to trust newspaper writers! They often don’t know what they’re talking about. And, headlines are meant to grab eyeballs rather than explain the truth.
Let’s look at the truth thus far through six games…
THE SERIES SO FAR
Game One: Oklahoma City (-7) beat Memphis 100-86
Game Two: Memphis (+6.5) beat Oklahoma City 111-105 in overtime
Game Three: Memphis (+1.5) beat Oklahoma City 98-95 in overtime
Game Four: Oklahoma City (-3) beat Memphis 92-89 in overtime
Game Five: Memphis (+7.5) beat Oklahoma City 100-99 in overtime
Game Six: Oklahoma City (-2.5) beat Memphis 104-84
That’s two Oklahoma City blowouts, and four overtimes! The average margin at the end of regulation through six games is Oklahoma City by 5.7. That’s about right for the Vegas spreads that have been going up. Factor in 2.5 to 3 points for home court (which seems smaller than usual this year), and you’re on the prices. It’s just that Oklahoma City isn’t getting to that average with consistent play…they’re getting to that average with one really good game every three.
SERIES STRENGTHS FOR MEMPHIS
Much better at forcing turnovers, with 16-21-17-13 takeaways in the last 4 games
Much better at avoiding turnovers, with four games at 10 or less
Much better at pounding the ball inside for points
There are no secrets with Memphis. You know exactly what they’re going to try and do. And, you know it’s going to HURT. The closest thing to a football mentality in the NBA the past few years has been the way Memphis plays in the postseason.
SERIES STRENGTHS FOR OKLAHOMA CITY
More three-point production by a substantial degree (19 more makes thus far)
More rebounding because of size/speed combination (34 more grabs thus far)
We would have added more star power, because of the way Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have starred in past playoffs. You know they’re going to score…you know they’re going to get respect from the refs. You know that they have a sense of the moment. But, Memphis has largely derailed that so far. It’s NOT a strength yet. But, it could be in Game Seven.
Game Seven Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 7.5, total of 185.5
That price reflects perceptions of these teams before the playoffs began, and is in line with the “average” regulation margin so far if home court advantage is worth a bucket. Handicappers have to decide if the finale is going to play to “average” or the most common occurrence so far (overtime)…and they have to determine if home court advantage even matters in 2014 given the very high number of road team victories.
JIM HURLEY knows that, given the extremes in this series, that Vegas price could be off by 10 points in either direction. Memphis is capable of winning this game straight up. Oklahoma City is capable of running away and hiding if Memphis has no gas left in its tanks. This matchup is likely to be part of Saturday’s GAME SEVEN PARLAY in the NBA. You can purchase the final word for Saturday’s thrillers right here at the website with your credit card by mid-morning. If you have any questions, call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Take care of business EARLY so you can get NETWORK WINNERS in the KENTUCKY DERBY as well as the NBA (and don’t forget about baseball!)
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