Say goodbye to the Memphis Grizzlies.
With the NBA’s announcement on Friday that Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph has been suspended for Saturday’s Game 7 at the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first-round series, it’s tough to envision a grit-and-grind world where his team survives. Randolph clearly blew it here, as slow-motion video shows him throwing an ill-advised elbow to the midsection of Thunder center Steven Adams and following with a right cross to his jaw in the fourth quarter of what was already a blowout Grizzlies loss in Thursday’s Game 6.
And with point guard Mike Conley slowed by a right hamstring strain that he’ll suffer through in order to play, that’s two setbacks too many for a Grizzlies team that was already up against it in this series.
Randolph, the 32-year-old who averaged 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds during the regular season, had hardly been dominant in six games against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s frontcourt of Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Adams had slowed his normally-steady production and forced him to shoot just 40.4% from the field while averaging 18.2 points and 8.7 assists per game.
But this team has limited offensive options to begin with. The loss of Randolph means that the Thunder defense that was ranked fifth in the regular season (101.0 points allowed per 100 possessions) can now squeeze the vice grip on Memphis’ scorers even more.