OKC Thunder (39-22, 17-13) at Memphis Grizzlies (35-29, 21-9 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.6 (5th), Grizzlies– 107.0 (15th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 108.0 (16th), Grizzlies – 105.0 (10th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.1 (12th), Grizzlies – 92.2 (15th)
View from the enemy: 3 Shades of Blue
Winning in Memphis is just a hard thing for the Thunder. But that was the old Thunder. This is the kind of new Thunder. It’s not the completely revamped version with Kendrick Perkins, but it’s Nazr Mohammed and Serge Ibaka on the front line now, which means OKC matches up much, much better with the Grizzlies.
Both teams come in on the second of a back-to-back so there’s no excuses. And it’s an important game for both squads. The Grizzlies are hanging on to eighth in the West while the Thunder try and create some separation in the Northwest. These two teams almost always play a fantastic game, so this should be another good one.
Memphis coming in: The Grizzlies have won two of three and again, last played Sunday night.
Rudy Gay is still out for Memphis, but that just means that Tony Allen plays more which actually might be bad news for the Thunder. Allen was a bulldog on Kevin Durant in the last meeting and for some reason, decides to play awesome against OKC. Also, Memphis just acquired KD stopper Shane Battier as well, so he’ll have his time on Durant too.
Inside, the Thunder has a much more ideal matchup against Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol with Serge Ibaka and Nazr Mohammed starting. The Grizzlies still have the edge, but the gap isn’t as wide as it once was.
Russell Westbrook tends to get the best of Mike Conley, but Conley is the type of point guard that makes big plays at random moments. Westbrook will need to play well but again, it’s James Harden’s time. The better he scores, the better OKC’s chances are.
Should be a fun one in Memphis but it’ll be a really tough one to win.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Thunder Up.