Grizzlies (32-24, 15-10 road) vs. Thunder (43-15, 23-6 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.6 (6th), Grizzlies – 105.1 (19th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.9 (4th), Grizzlies – 104.6 (10th)
Pace: Thunder – 95.3 (9th), Grizzlies – 89.8 (30th)
Win. Or else the world of Thunder may go into Defcon 5 freakout mode. That would be four straight losses, all at home. Even picturing four consecutive Ls on the schedule is hard to do. We haven’t seen that in the regular season since April of 2009, the first season in OKC. So don’t lose, you guys.
It won’t be easy, though. The Grizzlies are always a challenge for the Thunder, but if there is a silver lining to the opponent, it’s that the Thunder’s main issue has been defense. And that could be easily correctable against the Grizzlies. In fact, remember the 90-87 loss the Thunder had against Memphis before ripping off 10 straight in January? That game, despite being a loss, was kind of the precursor to the Thunder getting things right.
But a loss isn’t cutting it tonight. Not with three losses sticking with them already.
Three Big Things
1. Inside men. Steven Adams’ status is up in the air because of flu-like symptoms, though I expect him to play. If he can’t, the Thunder are now starting Hasheem Thabeet, and have only one available traditional center to go against the Grizzlies. Which isn’t good. Nick Collison should see heavy minutes already given the absence of Perk, and there should be opportunity for smallball. But the Thunder can’t afford to give up a lot of offensive rebounds, and they’re going to need their size to prevent some of that.
2. Reggie. How about playing a good game again, you know?
3. The D, we want it. The Thunder’s defense has been shoddy. And while the Grizzlies are a good candidate to get right against on that end because of their offensive struggles, if they go ripping off 110 points, it would reveal a much deeper, more concerning issue. So play some defense, OK?
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go D.