Thunder (28-9, 12-6 road) vs. Grizzlies (17-19, 9-12 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.6 (8th), Grizzlies – 106.3 (13th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 101.2 (4th), Grizzlies – 107.3 (20th)
Pace: Thunder – 96.3 (5th), Grizzlies – 90.1 (30th)
The Thunder playing in Memphis without Russell Westbrook. Feels like a terrible dream I had once.
The Grizzlies still aren’t healthy, but they are playing better, positioning themselves a bit to make a push back into the playoff conversation when Marc Gasol and Tony Allen do return. Mike Conley has been playing splendidly as well as a few of their role players. Of course Zach Randolph is always a load inside and the Grizzlies are back to defended the way they have in the recent past.
If there’s any team the Thunder should have a feel for playing without Westbrook, it’s Memphis, though as we’ve learned, it doesn’t always go well. KD has been battling an internal struggle of whether or not to do everything or to do less than everything. Against the Grizzlies last postseason, he tried to do it all. He’s going to have to, but he certainly needs a hand from Ibaka, Lamb and Jackson tonight.
Those three guys really hold the key to Thunder wins any given night. One of them shows up, KD needs to be near spectacular. Two show up, KD just needs to be himself. A three show up and the Thunder are rolling to a win against most teams they’ll play.
Three Big Things
1. KD. He’s going to play. Which is very important to the chances the Thunder have in winning this game.
2. Reg-gie. Reggie Jackson needs to play a good game. He was miserable against the Bucks, but even before that, his numbers looked fine though he wasn’t really impacting games. He’s looked tired and sometimes a little too self serving on the floor.
3. Turnovers. They’ve always been an issue against the Grizzlies. And with the game likely falling into a slow-paced halfcourt game, possessions become extremely valuable. Each shot the Thunder get up, even if it’s a Perk jumper or a Thabo 3, is better than just giving it away.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Teammates.