Western Conference Playoff Predictions: Grizzlies vs. Thunder

Haters gonna hate.

According to the Beef and our predictions, this matchup wasn’t supposed to happen.  However, now that it’s here, we gotta break it down.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder vs 8. Memphis Grizzlies

We had the Thunder losing to Denver in the first round.  The Nuggets were the stronger team with more depth and the better coach.  The Thunder pulled it out though and nearly swept Denver who barely won game four.

Likewise, we had the Grizzlies succumbing to the No. 1 seed in the West, the Spurs.  Again, San Antonio had the depth, experience and the better coach in Greg Popavich but Memphis took care of them in six.

Now, we have two of the youngest teams in the West matching up in a series that will truly state who is ready to be an upper-echelon team.

Key Matchups:

Zach Randolph has really risen to the occasion for this team.  It took some good playoff games for him to get the well-deserved raise that they offered him last week.  However, he isn’t done yet.  Now, this is his team and he is going to be willing to do anything to take them to the Western Conference finals.

That being said, it comes down to who the Thunder decide to put on him.  Kendrick Perkins sounds like the man for the job but in their last matchup, he wasn’t healthy.  Also, Z Bo has a lot more energy and ability in the post than Perkins can handle.  He scraps for rebounds and gets a lot of second chance points for the Griz.  Serge Ibaka will have to get in there as well and try to slow down Randolph who is proving to be one of the biggest surprises of these playoffs.

Kevin Durant was the leading scorer for the Thunder in every game in the first round.  Denver was unable to stop the Durantula who only scored less than 25 in one of the five games against Denver when they held him to 23 in game two.

They still won that game due to the performances of Russell Westbrook with 21 and James Harden with 18.  Since Memphis will have no chance of stopping Durant, it will be them defending the rest of the team.  The Griz get a lot of steals and lead the league with 9.3 a game and it will be up to Westbrook and company to take care of the ball and accent Durant’s unstoppable scoring.

X-Factors:

Marc Gasol and Darrell Arthur Will have to show up for this series.  Oklahoma City doesn’t defend the post well at all.  They give up 22 points a game alone to the leagues various frontcourts and really lucked out since none of the big guys for Denver showed up for the last series.  Perkins got into foul trouble quite a bit in the first round so that might be a good player for them to attack.

The Thunder need to get some points from their bench.  The second unit for Memphis includes Shane Battier and O.J. Mayo who can both put up some points.  Even Greivis Vasquez showed he can ball in their game six win that clinched the series against San Antonio.  Harden will have to show up and score which he has proven he can do but they are going to need a lot more from Eric Maynor, Deaquan Cook and Nick Collison.

Prediction:

Since we have gotten everything wrong when it comes to these two teams so far, we might as well take a risk.  Memphis will win this series in six games.  They are on an intense high from the Spurs series and if they stay hot, no one can stop them.  They were 3-1 against the Thunder this season and they seem to be playing for a lot more.  This is the first time Oklahoma City has been to the second round but it’s the same for Memphis.  The only difference is that no one saw the Griz doing this and we don’t think they are done surprising people.

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