Memphis Grizzlies (27-26, 11-18 road) vs. OKC Thunder (33-17, 18-7 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.8 (5th), Grizzlies – 106.2 (19th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 108.6 (17th), Grizzlies – 104.9 (9th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.9 (12th), Grizzlies – 92.2 (15th)
View from the enemy: 3 Shades of Blue
UPDATE: Rudy Gay is out for Memphis tonight. And despite being listed as “doubtful” Serge Ibaka is playing through a rib injury.
The Grizzlies are back in town just a couple weeks after coming to Oklahoma City. The season series is tied at 1-1 and no matter what, these two teams always seem to play a pretty good game. Part of it is because Rudy Gay and Kevin Durant are both terrific players and they guard each other. Another is because Memphis has a big edge inside against OKC which makes up for Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Memphis coming in: The Grizzlies continue their climb toward the eight-seed in the West, coming in winners in seven of their last 10. They’ve lost two straight though and played last night against the Lakers.
The Thunder’s already been dealt a major blow coming in and that’s Serge Ibaka being out for this game. Because of that, Nick Collison will see bigger minutes on Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, but who steps up to fill extra minutes behind Nenad Krstic? Could Cole Aldrich finally see some meaningful minutes? I bet Scott Brooks goes with D.J. White instead, but there’s at least an opportunity here.
Again, Rudy Gay versus Kevin Durant is always fun. But this game has a big matchup in Mike Conley and Russell Westbrook. Conley is capable of good games and if he’s able to pull that out tonight against Westbrook, OKC will have a tough time.
The game will eventually be decided by how well the Thunder can combat the Grizzlies down low. Jeff Green needs to play big, especially with Ibaka out. And Durant needs to keep hitting the glass in a big way. Games like this is where role players seem to step up big so Tony Allen and James Harden will likely play key parts.
The Thunder’s streaking a bit and with the Grizzlies at home coming off a game the night before, OKC should have the clear upper hand. But Memphis never goes quietly and with the Thunder shorthanded, it should be a grind.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Win.