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Memphis Grizzlies Defeat OKC Thunder 88-84 to Face San Antonio in Western Conference Finals

The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 88-84 on Wednesday night using their by now-familiar blend of stifling defense and turnover limitation. They were four-point underdogs in the game, but it didn’t matter; the Russell Westbrook-less Oklahoma City Thunder simply did not have enough firepower to overcome the Grizzlies grind-it-out style, and the Thunder’s Kevin Durant played poorly, shooting just 5-21 from the field.

“This is the first time, so it definitely means a lot. I’m happy, but we’ve still got work to do,” Memphis power forward Zach Randolph said. “I want to win a ring.”

“We’re trying to do something really special. We want to go as far as we can go,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “To get there, we had to get through Oklahoma City. And now, we have to get through either Golden State or San Antonio to get further.”

The Grizzlies style of play has been defined in the interior by big men Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol, the winner of this season’s NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. They may not play the most aesthetically pleasing branad of basketball on the planet, but their tough, bruising style wears down faster, more finesse-oriented squads.

“They fought hard, they did everything that they could. Tonight, they really came back in the second half and just kept coming, kept coming,” Hollins said of the Thunder. “We just were fortunate to just make enough plays to win the game. That’s the way we’ve been all year, but we’ll take it. They battled us and gave us everything they had.”

Kevin Durant, inarguably the second best player in the NBA behind the Heat’s Lebron James, struggled uncharacteristically as the series wore on. Many attributed this drop in production to his increased scoring responsibilities as well as his defensive assignment of Marc Gasol on the other end of the floor, who outweighs the paper-thin Durant by almost 100 pounds.

“He really wanted to carry his team. He was back home, he was trying to get a win tonight and he came out really trying,” Hollins said of Durant. “Throughout the course of the series, we just tried to put pressure on him, keep fresh bodies on him. … They had to play him and he had to be the go-to guy, and we knew that. We just tried to just make him work for everything.”

Now the Grizzlies advance to the Western Conference Finals to face the San Antonio Spurs, no strangers to big playoff moments. It’s going to be a hard-hitting, low-scoring series, and the Spurs are prepared.

“It’s going to be a rough one,” Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. “If you thought this was physical, it’s going to turn up about 10 notches.”

Here are the rest of the betting trends from Memphis’ close out win over the Thunder, courtesy of OddsShark.com:

Memphis Grizzlies Trends:
When playing on Wednesday are 6-4
Before playing Oklahoma City are 8-2
After playing Oklahoma City are 8-2
After a win are 7-3

Oklahoma City Thunder Trends:
When playing on Wednesday are 7-3
Before playing Memphis are 6-4
After playing Memphis are 4-6
After a loss are 6-4

A few Grizzlies at Thunder trends to consider:
Memphis is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Memphis’s last 6 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 13 of Memphis’s last 16 games when playing on the road against Oklahoma City
Memphis is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing Oklahoma City
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Oklahoma City’s last 7 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 13 of Oklahoma City’s last 16 games when playing at home against Memphis
The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Oklahoma City’s last 13 games
Oklahoma City is 19-6 SU in its last 25 games at home


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