Oklahoma City Thunder @ Memphis Grizzlies Game 3 Prediction: The Thunder evened up the series after the Grizzlies pulled the stunner in Game 1, outplaying Oklahoma all night and continuing their amazing playoff run. It’s not that surprising, however, as Memphis has a couple battle tested, defensive minded, tough-nosed players like Tony Allen and Shane Battier keeping their defensive together while Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol give opposing front courts all kinds of trouble. The Grizzlies are good, folks, it’s no fluke.
The Thunder got one hell of a game from their bench in Game 2, and that’s a huge reason why they came out well on top of the Grizz to even the series. 15 and 21 from Eric Maynor (3/4 from the three-point line) and James Harden was even nicer when added to Marc Gasol and Randolph teaming up to shoot 5 for 22 from the floor.
If I were the Thunder, I’d be ready for a battle on the road.
That being said, I still think the Thunder are the team to pick here. Unlike the Spurs, they aren’t at an athletic disadvantage against the Grizzlies, and I do believe they are the better team. With Perkins and Serge, they can match up pretty well against Gasol and Zach, and that makes a ton of difference.
Prediction: Thunder 94 – Grizzlies 89
Oklahoma City Thunder (+3.5) @ Memphis Grizzlies (5/7)
Friday Night’s Basketball action might not have a Celtics/Cavs or Lakers/Nuggets feel, but there’s a couple good games that can grab my attention. The first of my two games of the night sees two of the “next best” teams in their respective conferences. The Lakers rule the West’s popularity contest and the Cavs (or Celtics, or even Magic) often sit atop the East’s, but there’s reason to believe the Mavericks and Hawks have what it takes to reach the NBA Finals. The Charlotte Bobcats and Memphis Grizzlies are both looking for a birth into the group of 16, and while both have had great times this year, they have seen plenty of struggles as well. Both need this win on Friday Night.
Dallas Mavericks (+3.5) @ Atlanta Hawks (2-26: 7:00 PM ET – ESPN): I know the Mavericks have gotten a lot better, but the Hawks are tough. Still, I think Brenden Heywood and Dirk Nowitzki end up giving the smaller front line in Atlanta a tough time. Two legit 7 footers will give a lot of teams trouble, but now that Dirk doesn’t have to defend the paint as much, things are going to get easier for the Mavs. I like Atlanta, and they certainly have a punchers chance, as they are probably the better team right now – but the Mavs have a lot to play with, and I think they are a tough match-up for the Hawks.
Charlotte Bobcats @ Memphis Grizzlies (-3.5) (2-26: 8:00 PM ET): The deciding factor for me in this game is the fact that it’s being played outside of Charlotte – and away from home, you never know what Stephen Jackson is going to do – that cat is a gong show. He’s also the best player in Charlotte. Tough combo, I guess – as the former Warrior, and Pacer, and Spur, breathed some playoff hopes into a franchise without any history outside of the regular season. But he’s been up and down, and he’s tough to rely on, and his troubles away from home certainly go with the Bobcats struggles. The Bobcats haven’t been playing great lately, and I think Zach Randolph ends up doing bad things to Charlotte’s front line. That’s enough for me to go Grizzlies at home.