Editor’s Note: Thanks again to Stacie Montero for the guest post. Give her a follow on Twitter @staciemontero.
WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (20-14, 12-7 home) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (20-12, 8-6 away)
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Deyonta Davis (Out, Foot), Brandan Wright (Out, Ankle)
OKLAHOMA CITY: Cameron Payne (Out, Foot), Victor Oladipo (Out, Wrist)
MEMPHIS - Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
OKLAHOMA CITY - Russell Westbrook, Anthony Morrow, Andre Roberson, Domantas Sabonis, Steven Adams
The Grizzlies are looking to rebound after a road loss to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. Prior to the game, the Grizzlies had a perfect record for the season on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, but even with monstrous efforts from Gasol, Randolph, and Allen, the Grizz were unable to rally to keep the streak alive. Conley and Parsons didn’t play on Tuesday, so they will be plenty rested to take on a Thunder team that is sure to test their will and their defense.
OKC arrives in Memphis Thursday on a 4-game win streak and looking for their 9th road win of the season. In their last outing, they knocked off the Miami Heat 106-94. Westbrook recorded his 15th triple double of the season, while Steven Adams and Enes Kanter combined for 34 and 16 on 16-26 shooting.
This will be the first matchup of the season for these two and I expect FedExForum will be loud and rowdy. Both teams are still working out kinks and trying to establish new identities and roles with rosters that look different than they did a year ago. I know a lot of Grizzlies fans are frustrated and ready to panic, particularly about Chandler Parsons, but we still have yet to see what this roster is capable of at full strength. Conley and Parsons are both still on minutes restrictions, and while Mike has looked more aggressive and back to his former self on the court as of late, Chandler still looks a bit out of sorts, winded, and reluctant to shoot the ball. You know what would rectify all of the fuss? A home win against this Thunder team. So, how do they do it?
Tony Allen is always up for the challenge of keeping the opposing team’s offensive juggernaut in check, and I expect to see more of the same from him against Russell Westbrook tonight. Allen is driven by pride and his “first team all defense” mantra as much as his competitive nature. I think I speak for the entire city of Memphis when I say, go ahead and turn the water off, Tony. A great defensive effort from not just Allen, but the entire team will be critical, especially in transition.
The Grizzlies are definitely capable of lighting it up from 3-point range (wait, did I really just type that?), but they cannot rely on that to win this game. When the shots are there, take them. But the offense has to be moving in order for Conley to have the space to be aggressive, drive to the basket, and play inside out with the big men. Steven Adams is not going to make it easy for Gasol or ZBo to get the ball on the low block, but good spacing and ball movement will allow the bigs a better chance at getting position.
I think the Grizzlies bounce back and get a much needed win against the Thunder in a tight one, 103-101.