Memphis Grizzlies (40-41, 17-23 road) vs. OKC Thunder (49-31, 26-14 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.2 (13th), Grizzlies – 108.3 (12th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.5 (8th), Grizzlies – 109.8 (19th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.1 (12th), Grizzlies – 93.6 (10th)
View from the enemy: 3 Shades of Blue
Tonight, we will conclude the 2009-10 regular season. That’s it. It’s over. Hope ya’ll had fun. What’s that? There’s more basketball coming after tonight? Oh. WELL COOL. I just can’t get enough having to put “regular season” in front of everything saying this year is over. Because that implies you have more season left. That’s fun.
There are certainly things to play for (50 wins, momentum, confidence, an ESPN national audience), but there’s not much to gain. The Thunder’s made their bed and will have to sleep in eighth. But still, basketball will be played tonight at the Ford Center and they will be keeping score. The starters are going to play, but there’s no telling how much. With new of Mustafa Shakur and Byron Mullens getting a call-up today, I’m guessing this one is going to get treated as an exhibition game. Some good minutes in the first half, some scattered ones in the third and hardly any in the fourth. Just my guess.
Memphis coming in: The Grizzlies played Monday, losing to Denver. They are 17-23 on the road and 2-8 in their last 10.
Zach Randolph has been a nightmare inside for the Thunder. On OKC’s win in Memphis, he grabbed something like 79 offensive rebounds in the third quarter (I think that number may be a little high). And with Nenad Krstic still out – who is an incredibly underrated post defender – Randolph might get his 20-10 with little sweat. I’d expect a heavy dose of Serge Ibaka and even probably some D.J. White and Byron Mullens too tonight, so it’ll be nice to watch the young guys go against a premier low post player.
Rudy Gay is quite a talent and it’s always fun watching him go against Kevin Durant. That’ll be a fun matchup. Russell Westbrook and Mike Conley are both quick and like to penetrate. And O.J. Mayo will be a good warmup for Thabo to get back into his defensive stopper groove.
Also, here’s a couple fun Elias Sports Bureau notes for tonight’s game:
– Kevin Durant enters the final game of the season with 2,441 points, 616 rebounds and 110 steals. Since the NBA began tracking steals in 1973, only two other players have recorded at least 2,400 points, 600 rebounds and 100 steals in the same season: Michael Jordan in 1988-89 (2,633/652/234) and Karl Malone in 1989-90 (2540/911/121).
– Most points scored by a trio of teammates this season: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green, Oklahoma City (4,977); Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo, Memphis (4,617); Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith, Denver (4,526).
– Russell Westbrook has assisted on 212 of Kevin Durant’s baskets this season. Only three players have registered more assists on teammate’s buckets than Westbrook has for Durant: Steve Nash (275 assists on Amar’e Stoudemire baskets), Deron Williams (230 assists on Carlos Boozer baskets) and Jason Kidd (227 assists on Dirk Nowitzki baskets).
Regardless of the fact that this game means nothing, I really, really, REALLY would like 50 wins. Beside it being a beautiful round number, it just looks good in the standings. And equally as such, Memphis is playing for .500 tonight so I’m sure they don’t plan on rolling over. This should be the Ford Center’s 11th straight sellout and hopefully will be a full-on party in building some momentum for the playoffs.
Tip at 7:00 CDT. Go PLEASE Win 50.