Before this series began, I posted a “First Look” that featured the W/L and point differential between the Grizzlies and Thunder. The numbers were staggering, and are worth repeating:
This marks the third time in four seasons that the Grizzlies and Thunder will meet in the Playoffs. In 12 post-season games, the Grizzlies hold a 7-5 edge over the Thunder and the teams have split the two series. In 2011, the Thunder defeated the Grizzlies in the Western Conference Semi-Finals but needed 7 games to do so. In 2013, the Grizzlies eliminated the (admittedly Russel Westbrook-less) Thunder 4-1 in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
A closer look at these 12 playoff games really paints a picture of how evenly matched the teams have been. Over the two series, the Thunder have outscored the Grizzlies 1,173 to 1,165, or by a total of 8 points and an average of .6 points/game. The teams have had 3 playoff games go to OT, with the Thunder holding a 2-1 edge in those games.
Based on these figures, I suggested that “if recent trends hold true, the series stands to be among the most exciting and competitive in the first round and it may well be a toss-up which team moves on to the Western Conference Semi-Finals.” I’d say that the series has been even more than that – perhaps the best first-round series in NBA history.
The teams have now played 5 additional games, and – as you may have heard – 4 of them went to overtime. Here are what the series playoff numbers look like as we await Game 6:
- W/L: Grizzlies hold 10-7 edge over the Thunder
- OTs: 7 out of 17 games have gone to OT, with the Grizzlies holding a 5-2 edge (both losses @ FedExForum, oddly enough)
- Total Points: The Thunder have outscored Memphis 1664-1649, for a differential of 15 points in 17 games.
These numbers are tough to wrap your head around. When you think about it, both of these teams should have already won this series. That’s crazy.
In 2011, the Thunder needed 7 games to knock out a Memphis squad that was without Rudy Gay. In 2013, Memphis knocked out a Westbrook-less Thunder team in 5 games. Other than the suspension of Nick Calathes, these teams are at full strength and the winner of this rubber-match can enjoy a victory that won’t be “asterisk-ed” by the opposing fans.
While the Grizzlies have to feel good about winning Game 5, and the chance to come back to Memphis to close out the series, it is prudent to remember that the home team is 2-3 in the first 5 games of this series. And if we’ve learned anything in the last 12 days, its that it is going to be a crazy game and likely won’t be decided in the first 48-minutes.
See you Thursday, Memphis!