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    09/07/2011 9:56 PM
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    01/17/2019 7:25 AM

NBA Playoffs Journal (May 16)

Oklahoma City led Memphis 54-44 at the half in Game 6 last Friday night but got ‘run over’ 28-14 in the third quarter, as the Grizz tied the series at three-all with a 95-83 win. Randolph rebounded from his worst game of the postseason in Game 5 with 30 points and 13 rebounds while Mayo added 16 from the backcourt, in his first start of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Durant, this year’s top playoff scorer, made just 3-of-14 FGs (1-of-9 on threes) for 11 points. As a team, the Thunder made just 4-of-25 three pointers. That meant that Sunday’s Game 7 of the Memphis/Oklahoma City series was the first series this postseason (of 12) to go the distance. It was uncharted territory for almost all the players on both teams, as the last time the Thunder franchise played in a Game 7 was back in 1997, when the team played in Seattle. As for Memphis, the Grizzlies entered this year’s postseason 0-12 in games over three previous playoff appearances, meaning the team hadn’t even gotten to a Game 5 prior to this year.

The game didn't offer much suspense, as the Thunder were in control most of the way. Kevin Durant followed up his disappointing Game 6 effort with the fourth-highest scoring total for any player in his first Game 7. He finished 13-of-25 from the floor (4-of-9 on threes for 39 points. The only players to score more than Durant’s 39 points in their first-ever Game 7s were Wilkins (47 in a losing effort for the Hawks to the Celtics in 1988), the Big O (43 points in a losing effort for the Royals to the Celtics in 1963) and Calvin Murphy (42 points in a Houston win over the Spurs in 1981). Westbrook, who has been oft-criticized for his poor shot selection this postseason, added 14 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists, becoming just the 5th player in postseason history to have a triple-double in a Game 7.

Memphis, the West’s No. 8 seed, had quite a run this postseason. The Grizzlies totally outplayed the Spurs (No. 1 seed) in winning in six games (5-0-1 ATS) and then took the Thunder to seven games. Memphis really missed Rudy Gay, who not only averaged 19.8 PPG but was the team's best three-point shooter. Memphis was 5-of-15 on threes in Game 7 and averaged converting just 3.8 threes per contest in 13 postseason games, connecting on just 31.8 percent (it caught up to them). Zach Randolph made quite a name for himself this postseason, averaging 22.2 PPG and 10.8 RPG (so did Gasol, who averaged 15.0 & 11.2). However, while Randolph averaged 28.3 PPG and 14.7 RPG in Memphis’ three wins vs Oklahoma City, he averaged a more modest 18.8 PPG and 10.3 RPG in the team’s four losses (that includes a 34 & 16 effort in the triple-overtime game), while shooting only 20-of-62 (32.3 percent) in those losses.

Home teams were 32-11 SU but just 17-23-3 ATS in the first round. They finished 14-8 SU and ATS in the second round, for a postseason-to-date mark of 46-19 SU (.707). Home dogs went 7-6-1 and after a very slow start, home favorites are now 24-25-2 ATS, making all home teams 31-31-3 ATS after 65 games (can’t make that up). Under bettors went 26-17 (60.5 percent) in the first round but over bettors bounced back in the second round to go 14-8. That’s 31 overs and 34 unders, overall. Those following the Zig-Zag Theory won with Memphis in Game 6 (Friday) and Oklahoma City in Game 7 (Sunday) to creep closer to 50-50 for this year’s postseason at 24-26-3 AT (minus-4.6 net games).

Everyone knows the Bulls opened the Eastern Conference finals last night with an impressive 103-82 win over the Heat but I’ll recap that game, as well as set the stage for the Western Conference finals (Oklahoma City vs Dallas) in tomorrow’s journal with Game 1 set for Tuesday night.

Good luck...Larry

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