OKC Thunder (13-45, 3-25 road) at Memphis Grizzlies (15-42, 12-19 home)
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM)
Time: 7:00 CST
Offensive Rating: Thunder: 103.7 (27th), Grizzlies: 102.5 (29th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder: 110.3 (24rd), Grizzlies: 109.5 (20th)
Pace: Thunder: 94.0 (7th), Grizzlies: 90.2 (22nd)
We return to the site of one of OKC’s few glorious road wins – the Fedex Forum.
So the big question is, how will Memphis play without Kyle Lowry? I mean, will Kevin Durant play? Well, Durant used crutches and wore a protective boot on his right foot when leaving the arena last night. Team officials list him as day-to-day, but the injury was severe enough that team officials took an X-ray, which was negative.
So we’re going to assume OKC is without KD for tonight. And much like last night, we all need to look at this as a possible big step in the right direction for the Thunder. Obviously Durant is our main man. But instead of this being Kevin Durant and four other guys, we need this to be five guys working together with one of them being Kevin Durant. It’s a lot like what OU dealt with recently without Blake Griffin. The team proved to itself that it wasn’t just one guy doing the work – they had a key role in this team too. And after last night’s overtime thriller, I think some of the Thunder players maybe got that message too.
The biggest concern is that it seems like the team is scrambling a bit offensively without KD. There’s no “just throw it to KD and let him score.” As Joe said, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook are really the only guys that can create their own so the offense is going to have to go through them. So it’s going to have to be a bit more of a total team effort offensively. Guys like Nenad Krstic and Nick Collison are going to have to hit open shots. Westbrook needs to create like he did last night, but he’s got to get other’s involved when he does it. Kyle Weaver really needs to get a little more involved in the offense and Earl Watson needs to not shoot and pass more. Again, KD could play and all of this is moot and we’re back to watching Durant dropped 35 and not worrying about the offense.
As for Memphis, the Grizzlies have been idle since Wednesday’s 104-99 loss at Indiana. While the Thunder’s lost seven in a row, the Grizzlies have lost six straight. Somebody’s breaking the streak tonight! Again, I’m pumped to watch Thabo play defense again. He’s already changed OKC for the better on that end of the floor. He’s got another tough cover in O.J. Mayo and the thing is, as Mayo goes, so go the Grizzlies. So if Thabo can frustrate and stifle Mayo, the Thunder’s going to have a good shot. Other than that, Memphis relies on Marc Gasol in the post and Rudy Gay on the wing. Thabo will probably see time on Gay as well, with Jeff Green probably drawing that match too.
Both teams match up pretty well even without Durant. Memphis is one of the worst offensive teams in the league and OKC’s no defensive master (though the Thunder have played pretty solid defense the last two). The key for OKC is knocking down open shots and doing well on the glass. Even without Durant this game is winnable. And it would be really nice to see the team step up in KD’s absence (that is, if he doesn’t play. No official word yet).
Tip at 7:00 CST. Go Kevin Durant’s ankle.