The Oklahoma City Thunder expected to be here. With a legit MVP candidate in Kevin Durant, a young All-Star point guard in Russell Westbrook and a solid cast of roleplayers up and down the roster, the Thunder expected before too long they'd be fighting for a chance to represent the West in the NBA Finals.
The Memphis Grizzlies, well they may have expected to be here. But no one else did. In the course of two years, Memphis went from a cheaply-run, cellar-dwelling loser to the rising prince of the league, one win away from the Western Conference Finals. It was just three years ago at which point team owner Michael Heisley was bragging that he could make money not by competing, but by using his cap space to make trades that luxury tax teams would lubricate with cash.
So here we are, the chosen ones against the question marks. The crown prince against the mystery suitor. Game 7 (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) will decide which team moves on to face the Dallas Mavericks in the WCF, which begin Tuesday.
Kevin Durant had his worst playoff game ever in Game 6 in Memphis on Friday, scoring 11 points on 3-14 shooting. Shane Battier and Tony Allen gave Durant serious trouble, and he's struggled to shake their tight defense all series. Russell Westbrook had a strong outing with 27 points on 11-22 shooting, but once Memphis took control in the second half and KD couldn't spring loose, there was no chance for OKC.
Durant is shooting 43 percent for the series; Westbrook is at 42 percent. Like the Thunder stars, Memphis talisman Zach Randolph has been hot and cold; Z-Bo had 30 on 12-22 shooting in Game 6, but is shooting just 40.7 percent for the series.
So it comes down to which one gets hot in Game 7, perhaps. Be sure to check out our Thunder vs. Grizzlies hub for full series coverage. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City. For more on the Grizzlies, visit Straight Outta Vancouver.