Updates from Saturday, May 3
Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman has Steven Adams' thoughts on the suspension:
Steven Adams on the Randolph suspension: "It is unfortunate...Very surprised. I'm actually a big fan of his."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 3, 2014
On Friday, he suffered the consequences. According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, the NBA has suspended Randolph for one game—the decisive Game 7 of the teams' first-round series.
Grizzlies Zach Randolph suspended 1 gm (Game 7) for punching OKC's Steven Adams in the jaw last night with 6:42 remaining in 4Th quarter.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) May 2, 2014
Looking at the incident—which also included an elbow to the midsection—it's not hard to see why a suspension was in order.
Losing Randolph, who's averaging 18.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in this series, is a huge blow to Memphis. Without his presence on the court, the Grizzlies could be in trouble on the glass and struggle to to keep pace with the Thunder's high-octane offense.
Marc Gasol will need to carry Memphis down low in Randolph's absence, particularly on the defensive end. After Game 6, the star center reiterated that the team needs to keep Kevin Durant out of his comfort zone, offering, per Marlon W. Morgan of NBA.com: "We're not going to give him anything easy."
Veteran swingman Mike Miller and combo forward James Johnson are likely to play heavier minutes in Game 7, but which of the two players slides into the starting frontcourt alongside Gasol and small forward Tayshaun Prince remains to be seen. Young power forwards Ed Davis and Jon Leuer could also see an uptick in playing time, particularly if small-ball isn't working for head coach Dave Joerger.
No matter how the teams lineups shake out, it's clear that the Grizzlies have their work cut out for them, per ESPN's Marc Stein:
No Z-Bo and a half-speed Conley? Crushing for Grizz— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) May 2, 2014
It wasn't going to be easy for Memphis to advance to the next round of the playoffs considering the swing in momentum—the Thunder won Game 6 handily, 104-84—and the fact that Game 7 will be back in OKC. But now, with Randolph sidelined and the aforementioned Mike Conley nursing an injury, the Grizzlies' chances at pulling off an upset have shrunk considerably.