By Randy Renner
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks made a big change to his starting lineup before Game 6 and now the NBA office has forced the Memphis Grizziles to change their before Game 7.
Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, their leading scorer and rebounder in this series, has been suspended for Game 7 because of punching Thunder center Steven Adams in the jaw late in Game 6.
At the time Randolph was just given a common foul by the game's officiating crew but replays clearly showed Z-Bo hitting Adams with a fist. One player punching another is an automatic one-game suspension (at least) and so the league office went by the book.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau Randolph will be the first player in NBA history to miss a Game 7 after leading his team in scoring through the first six games.
Randolph was averaging 18.2 points in the series to lead the Grizzlies. But he was shooting just 40.4 percent.
It's not clear who the Grizzlies will turn to, perhaps Ed Davis, perhaps Kosta Koufus. Memphis coach Dave Joerger may reveal something of his plans at Grizzlies shootaround later today.
Randolph is the second Memphis player suspended by the NBA, remember they started this series without backup point guard Nick Calathes, who is serving a 20 game suspension for using a banned substance.
The Grizzlies will also being playing Game 7 tonight with an injured Mike Conley. Conley strained his right hamstring in Game 6. He told reporters he will play tonight but who knows how long he will be able to go and how effective he can be.
""You're not supposed to play through it, they say, but I've got deaf ears right now," Conley said. "I'm going to get treatment on it and be as good as I can be."
For the Thunder, as tempting as it might be to breathe a sigh of relief that they won't have Z-Bo to worry about, they will have to come out with the same kind of energy and intensity that fueled them in Game 6.
No matter the Grizzlies personnel problems this is still a do-or-die game.
We'll update the blog from shootaround a bit later today.