Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies game day preview – Feb. 3

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.

Related: Enes Kanter fractures forearm- Domino effect of a selfish act

Triple-Double Watch:

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.

Must Read: Westbrook All-Star Weekend destined to rub salt in open wound

Grizzlies Strengths and Weaknesses:

  • 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.

Must Read: Five Shooters the Thunder Should Target

Rotations:

Oklahoma City Thunder Starters:

Point Guard:  Russell Westbrook – 30.8 points,  10.2 assists, 10.6 rebounds
Shooting Guard:  Victor Oladipo– 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 37.3 percent from deep
Small ForwardAndre Roberson – 6.6 points, 1.1 assists,  4.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals
Power Forward: Domantas Sabonis – 6.2 points, 1.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds
Center: Steven Adams– 12.1 points,  7.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.1 blocks

Notes:

  • Enes Kanter underwent successful surgery to repair his fractured forearm. Kanter will be reevaluated in 4 weeks but could be out between 6-8 weeks.
  • Alex Abrines will be a game time decision as he deals with ongoing back spasms
  • Semaj Christon was on the bench in the last game after being recalled from the Oklahoma City Blues
  • Josh Huestis remains with the D-League affiliate Blues squad

OKC Thunder Reserves:

Point Guard: Cameron Payne
Shooting Guard: Alex Abrines Anthony Morrow
Small Forward: Jerami Grant, Kyle Singler,
Power Forward: Nick Collison
Center: Joffrey Lauvergne

Rotations:

Memphis Grizzlies Starters:

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

Game Specifics:

Recent History: The  hold a slight advantage of 17 to 14. In the past three seasons the teams have split games with the Grizzlies holding a slight 5-4 advantage.

The VenueChesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

The Tip: 7:00 PM CT (8:00 PM ET)

TV: FS Oklahoma HD, NBATV

RadioWLS 98.1FM OKC / 930AM (ESP)

Next up the Oklahoma City Thunder finish their  3-game home stint in a matinee contest versus the Portland Blazers.

After the game visit Thunderous Intentions to catch our full game recap and make sure to provide your thoughts and opinion on the game in our comments section.

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