If it was “panic time” in Indianapolis a few weeks ago, then I’m not even sure how you could possible label where the Pacers sit this morning. On the heels of an embarrassing home-court pummeling in a pivotal Game Five, they now face the immediately real possibility of suffering perhaps the most embarrassing first round upset in the history of the NBA Playoffs. I’ll be stubborn and not quite admit embarrassing defeat until the final breath, but it is really tough to objectively think Indiana is digging their way out of this hole. They really have collapsed.
The best quote I heard about the Pacers collapse is that they are now “one loss away from being the subject of a 30 for 30 in ten years.” Well put. This collapse would be among the most epic in all of sports.
Meanwhile, their top-seeded counterpart survived the mavericks despite a good look at the basket by Monta Ellis to potentially force overtime. The ball bounded off the rim, Manu hit two clutch free throws and the defending Western Conference champs now head back home all squared at two game apiece.
The Bobcats became the first team eliminated last night, and one more faces that possibility tonight.
Let’s dive into tonight’s free pick.
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder -7 (Total: 186.5)
Three of the four games in this series have gone to overtime, so tonight’s pivotal Game Five could be a memorable one. These teams are 5-5 against each other over the last ten games and only two games have been decided by double-digits.
Oklahoma City won the opening game of this series at home 100-86, but since then, every game has gone to overtime. It’s fair to say either team could easily be up 3-1 in this series and looking to close it out tonight.
Much of the success of the Grizzlies will come down to Zach Randolph’s ability to play an efficient game tonight. He is averaging a nice 18.3 ppg in the series, but is shooting only 36% in the process. They are going to need him to play a more efficient game tonight to overcome the offense of Durant and Westbrook. It’s unlikely you will see another game as bad as Game Four from this duo, who combined to shoot 11 of 45. Amazingly, they still won the game thanks to the heroics of Reggie Jackson. I imagine both play a more normal game tonight.
I think OKC will win at home, but in a series this tight and contentious, I have a hard time considering laying more than a half dozen points on anyone. I’ll take the Grizzlies with the seven points, and am looking forward to an awesome Game Five.