Before you know it, the Memphis Grizzlies might ultimately be the favorites to come out of the Western Conference this year. They were huge underdogs as the No. 5 seed in the West, but they took down the Los Angeles Clippers in six games and are now the favorites to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semifinals. Memphis earned a split in the first two games played at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and if it can just hold serve at the FedEx Forum, it will be in the Western Conference Finals.
The man of the hour has been C Marc Gasol, who is suddenly outshining his brother this season as one of the best Spanish born players in the NBA. Gasol has averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game here in the postseason, but he has really done well on the defensive side of the court.
Gasol gets his work done without getting major stats. Sure, he averaged 1.7 blocks per game in the regular season, but it’s the amount of shots that he alters and big men that he manages to hold down that make the difference. Remember that the Grizzlies aren’t a particularly flashy team, but they have held their foes down to just 89.3 points per game this season, easily the best mark in the league.
Memphis has kept the Thunder down to just 93 points in each of the first two games in this series. We know that G Russell Westbrook isn’t playing for Oklahoma City, but to hold this team to just 93 points is impressive no less. The Grizzlies have now held their last seven foes in the postseason to just an average of 91.7 points per game, and it shouldn’t be considered surprising that they are 6-1 SU and a perfect 7-0 ATS on the NBA odds in those outings.