Thunder (15-4, 6-4 road) vs. Grizzlies (10-10, 5-7 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 107.1 (10th), Grizzlies – 102.6 (22nd)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.2 (5th), Grizzlies – 105.7 (17th)
Pace: Thunder – 96.6 (4th), Grizzlies – 89.9 (30th)
LeBron says rivalry is dead in the NBA and while I don’t necessarily think Thunder-Grizzlies is, or has ever been one, it certainly has been one of the best isolated matchups for OKC the past five years. Regardless of situation, the game always seems to come down to the final 10 possessions or so.
For example, without Russell Westbrook last postseason, the Grizzlies beat OKC four out of five, but things could’ve easy swung the other direction. Now the tables have turned and it’s Memphis dealing with playing without one of their best players as OKC is full strength. Granted, the time is quite different and the game is of far less importance, but still!
Following up last night’s quality win with another won’t be easy, even with the Grizzlies missing key players. Those guys are tough and rugged, and they compete. Especially against the Thunder.
Memphis coming in: Beat the Magic on Monday
Three Big Things
1. No Big Bear. Without Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies are starting Kosta Koufos at center, which means Kendrick Perkins isn’t all that necessary tonight, unless he’s defending Zach Randolph. If I’m Scott Brooks, I might consider starting Perk on Z-Bo and Ibaka on Koufos, not because Perk guards Randolph better (he doesn’t), but more just to avoid any kind of foul trouble with Ibaka. Brooks also can really dictate some matchups tonight by going small, something he’s done in the past with Durant on Gasol, but not the Thunder should have a decided advantage there.
2. Ball security. The Grizzlies have always done a tremendous job of protecting the basketball against OKC, while the Thunder tend to get a little loose with it. The Thunder feast off of open court turnovers, but the Grizzlies don’t give you many. They play painfully slow (last in pace) and because they don’t shoot a ton of 3s, there aren’t a lot of transition opportunities for the other team. So OKC’s got to be sound with the ball and take care of things in the halfcourt.
3. Back-to-back. The Thunder are on the second night of consecutive games, which means they’re evidently given a free pass to completely deuce themselves and not show up. Oh, that’s not how it works? Well, I was told the other day…
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Revenge.