Records: Memphis Grizzlies (5-1) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-2)
8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Line: Memphis by -5.5, O/U: 194.0
Injury Report: MEM:Arthur, Out; OKC: Thabeet, DTD
Opponent Blog: Welcome to Loud City
I seem to always find myself writing on a matchup with Oklahoma City. To me, it feels like the Grizzlies are on the same court a lot with this team, but we don't play them more than we play anybody else. This goes to testify this matchup is always a heated one that gets attention from Grizzlies and Thunder fans alike.
Last season, the Thunder won the first three meetings with the Grizzlies before finally losing 94-88 in the fourth and final game on April 2, 2012. Just because we won, though, doesn't mean it was pretty - we shot 39.1 percent from the field.
Though we lost 3 of 4 last season, Grizzlies fans have a hard time forgetting the seven-game Western Conference Semis in the 2011 playoffs. The Grizzlies and Thunder split the first two games, but game 3 was a showing in which the Grizzlies won after overcoming a 16-point deficit. Game 4 gave basketball fans a 10-point Thunder win in triple OT - they rode the streak into game 5 and smashed the Grizzlies 92-77. The Grizzlies tied the series in Game 6 after a 95-82 victory. Eventually, however, the Thunder advanced to the franchise's first conference finals since they moved from Seattle. Russell Westbrook boasted a triple double in game 7 (the fifth player in basketball history to do so).
I'd be lying if I said I didn't think of the 2011 playoffs every time I see the Grizzlies and Thunder step up and play each other. According to us, we feel the Thunder is our main rival.
Excited? You bet.
Both teams tonight are coming into the game with a 5-game winning streak. The Grizzlies are coming off a convincing 104-86 win against the defending champion Miami Heat. If you haven't read Kevin's "game diary" on the blog, I really encourage you to check it out. Memphis looked just about as good as I've ever seen them and put up numbers you wouldn't believe came from our players. But hey - they did.
We're allowing 89.8 points per game and shooting 41.3 percent over the 5 game winning streak. I'll take that.
The Thunder, on the other hand, have been basketball-playing machines. They've played nine games this month and five games in the past week. This past Monday, Oklahoma City beat Detroit, who many say is the worst team thus far, only 92-90 behind Westbrook's 33 points.
The rest of Westbrook's season, though, hasn't been too hot. Through six games, he was shooting 25 percent on three-pointers. Readers, writers, and media alike have all been questioning his decision-making when looking at his bad shots. But we know all about that.
[ Insert Rudy Gay reference here ]
When he's bad, he's bad - last Friday he went 3-10 against Detroit. Six days ago he went 7-22. Against San Antonio in the first game of the season, he went 6-21 with six turnovers.
I'm sorry - he's on my fantasy team. I still haven't won a FG% category yet in my league.
But when he's good, woah. He made 10-16 with 4-6 three pointers and 10 assists, six rebounds, and four steals. I think a big part of the Thunder we may see tonight is dependent on Russell Westbrook deciding to continue this streak or to fall off it.
The Thunder are good. They're figuring out a way to find a new identity without James Harden on the court and his fourth-quarter production. In response, Serge Ibaka is stepping up: averaging more points per game and finding aggression unseen by him up to this point.
But man - the Grizzlies are hot. Too hot. I don't think anybody can touch Marc Gasol right now. Rudy Gay is somehow making his behind-the-back-after-spinning-around-5-times-while-wearing-drunk-goggles-shot-attempts.
And, the bench. The Grizzlies bench (now called the "Zoo Crew"), put up 41 points against Miami. 41 points. This is coming from a team who has always been known for weak bench production.
We can't be stopped right now. I think we take it tonight.
Memphis 101, Oklahoma City 92
Per usual, the game thread will be up and running. See you there.