The NBA playoffs, in their current format, are not particularly conducive to surprises. The top seeds usually win series, and the best teams usually meet in the league finals. That's probably because over the course of a seven-game series the better teams can overcome one- or two-game spurts by the upstarts. Since the league has gone to the seven-game format for the first round of the playoffs only one eight seed has beaten a one seed. That was the Golden State Warriors of 2007, who upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks.
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The 2011 Memphis Grizzlies are a win away from pulling the same trick.
Memphis, which now leads the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs three games to one in their first-round Western Conference playoff series, get their first chance to close this series out when the teams meet for their Game 5 Wednesday night at The Barn in San Antonio (8:30 p.m. EST, NBATV).
Memphis won 46 games during the regular season, finishing in fourth place in the Southwest Division, 15 games behind the division-champion Spurs. But the Grizzlies split their four games with San Antonio, losing the first two on the road (one in overtime) and winning the last two on their home court. So Memphis did not exactly enter this series in fear of the Spurs.
And that showed from the start, as the Grizzlies began the playoffs by pulling a shocker, beating a Ginobili-less Spurs, 101-98, in San Antonio.
The Spurs rebounded to win Game 2 at home, 93-87, but Memphis retook the series lead in Game 3 at home, building a 10-point halftime lead and hanging on for a 91-88 victory.
Then, Monday night, the Grizzlies reached maybe the high moment in franchise history, using a dominating second half to rout the Spurs, 104-86, in Game 4, moving within one more victory of the conference semifinals.
So far in this series the Grizzlies are shooting 46 percent from the field, the Spurs 43 percent.
A month ago San Antonio was 57-13. Since then the Spurs are 5-11. And with losing its last two regular-season games, San Antonio has lost five of its last six overall.
If the Spurs win Wednesday night the teams will return to Memphis for Game 6 Friday night.
Grizzlies at Spurs Betting Odds and Trends
As of Wednesday morning most online sportsbooks, including JustBet, are listing San Antonio as 6.5-point favorites for Wednesday night's game, with an ‘over/under’ of 189. The Spurs are also listed at -300 on the moneyline at BetOnline, while the Grizzlies are getting +255 at Bookmaker.
Memphis is 8-0 ATS vs. San Antonio this season.
The totals are 5-3 in Grizzlies-Spurs games this season, as those games have averaged 194 points.
The totals are 2-2 in this series, as the games have averaged 187 points.
Memphis is 28-15 ATS on the road this season.
San Antonio is 19-23 ATS at home this season.
NBA Picks: Grizzlies at Spurs Predictions
San Antonio is the veteran team, and winning 61 games isn't a fluke. And they're basically healthy, with Ginobili, Duncan and Parker all up and running. Young Memphis, meanwhile, has played great so far in this series, but we have our doubts as to whether they can close things out on their first try. We figure the Spurs have got at least one more win in them, and no one should doubt the possibility of them coming back altogether and winning this series. So we'll take the Spurs Wednesday night and lay the points.
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