Oklahoma City Thunder look to bounce back from a sound beating versus the Bulls as they host the Memphis Grizzlies. Tip-off is 7:00 PM CT.
Ironically the last time the Oklahoma City Thunder played the Memphis Grizzlies it was immediately after they played the Bulls. Tonight’s circumstance while a deja vu of that occurrence is different in that this time they tip off following a loss – a bad loss in fact.
Since losing Enes Kanter the Oklahoma City Thunder have been in a funk losing 3-games in a row. This is especially true of the offense, particularly from the reserve unit. Conversely the Grizzlies arrive having won 3-games in-a-row. One team will continue their streak tonight and Thunder Nation hopes that is the home town squad.
Russell Westbrook stands at 24 triple-doubles on the season after failing to register one against either the Spurs or Bulls. These teams are consequently 2 of the 3 teams left on his short list with the Hornets being the other.
Westbrook has totals of 1,533 points, 522 rebounds and 513 assists on the season. To average a triple-double on the season Westbrook must collect 820 points, rebounds and assists.
With 32 games remaining he needs another 298 rebounds and 307 assists. That translates into averages of 9.31 rebounds and 9.59 assists over his final 32 games.
Memphis rank the lowest in the NBA for field goal percent at 43.2%. This is good news for the Oklahoma City Thunder who need to keep the score low given their own recent offensive struggles. To that end, in the past 5 games the Thunder rank 29th in field goal percent (41.1%)
Although the Grizzlies rank low in field goal percent they are in the middle ground (16th) in perimeter efficiency. Conversely the Thunder struggle from deep ranking 29th (32.2 percent).
While the Thunder continue to rank among the top 5 teams on the glass Memphis sit in the middle of the pack at 16th. With the return of Brandan Wright to the lineup this area of the Grizzlies game may get a well needed boost.
On the season the teams rank relatively close in offense and defense, current Kanter-less reserve lineups not withstanding.
Not surprisingly a huge discrepancy exists in terms of the pace the two team utilize. Memphis ranks 28th while OKC employ the 6th faster pace. Whoever dictates the pace could well determine the victor of tonight’s match.
Keys to Winning:
Donovan needs to pull the right strings:
Given the recent offensive issues of the Thunder’s lack of offense, the situation is dire. Donovan needs to figure out an answer quickly to stop the down slide of the team, If the coach fails to find a solution OKC could find themselves on the outside of playoffs looking in.
Capitalize on three key strengths:
One area the Thunder hold a real advantage is in second chance points where they rank 8th versus the Grizzlies who rank 19th. For them to utilize this strength OKC needs to capitalize on their rebounding on both ends of the court. Moreover, the big advantage for the Thunder lies in their fast break scoring where they rank 3rd compared to Memphis who rank 28th.
Limit Gasol and Conley’s touches, but watch out for ZBo:
Key to garnering a victory will be making sure Marc Gasol or Mike Conley don’t take over the game. That said, with the Thunder’s reserve unit, offensive issues, the man to lock down will be Zach Randolph. ZBo could turn out to be the x factor if the Thunder aren’t careful.
Point Guard: Mike Conley Shooting Guard: Tony Allen Small Forward: Chandler Parsons Power Forward: Jeff Green Center: Marc Gasol
Memphis Grizzlies Reserves:
Point Guard: Andrew Harrison, Toney Douglas Shooting Guard: Vince Carter, Troy Daniels Small Forward: James Ennis, JaMychal Green Power Forward: Zach Randolph, Deyonta Davis, Brandan Wright, Jarell Martin Center:
Notes: any of the power forwards could find themselves spending time at center