Memphis and Oklahoma City will play a deciding Game 7 of their series on Saturday and the Grizzlies will be forced to take the court without leading scorer Zach Randolph, who was suspended by the NBA for one game for punching Thunder center Steven Adams in Game 6.
The incident occurred during the fourth quarter on Thursday. Both players were running up the floor while Oklahoma City was bringing the ball up the court. Adams and Randolph were running side-by-side before Randolph cleared some space with an elbow then appeared to push/punch Adams in the face. The NBA released video of the incident, categorizing it as a punch in the jaw.
Randolph will be suspended without pay, but more importantly, not be eligible to play in Game 7. His absence will create a major void as he's leading Memphis in scoring in the series, averaging 18.2 points per game. He's tied with Marc Gasol in rebounding, averaging 8.7 rebounds per game in the series. With him out, the Grizzlies will likely lean heavily on Gasol and Mike Conley to fill the scoring void.
Without a natural backup power forward to fill in, head coach David Joerger may be forced to get creative with his lineup. The Grizzlies might opt to go small with Mike Miller and Tayshaun Prince seeing extended minutes. James Johnson and Ed Davis could also see more minutes off the bench.