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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Game Preview

Tyreke’s still here. Time to move on.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (18-36, 5-20 road) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (31-25, 19-9 home)

WHEN: 6:00 PM CT

WHERE: Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

Injury Report-

MEMPHIS- Andrew Harrison (Questionable, illness), Mike Conley (Out, heel), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee), Deyonta Davis (Out, knees), Wayne Selden Jr. (Out, knee)

OKLAHOMA CITY- Carmelo Anthony (Questionable, ankle), Russell Westbrook (Questionable, ankle), Andre Roberson (Out, patellar tendon)

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP-

MEMPHIS- Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol

OKLAHOMA CITY- Raymond Felton, Josh Huestis, Paul George, Patrick Patterson, Steven Adams


Tyreke Evans is still a Memphis Grizzly.

You probably already knew that. We’ve written and talked about that very reality here at GBB a lot in the wake of the trade deadline coming and going. Regardless of your stance on whether or not the Grizzlies should have moved Evans for less than a 1st round pick, the fact remains that this very talented player is still in Memphis. He will play for the Grizzlies moving forward, and Memphis will probably win games that they would’ve lost if Tyreke was in Washington or Boston or Denver, and then he will probably leave in free agency.

This is the likely reality down the road. But the certainty of today is Tyreke Evans is back with the Grizzlies. And that makes Memphis better in the here and now.

Combine that with the Grizzlies taking on a banged up OKC Thunder teams tonight and Memphis just may have a shot in this game, despite the awful road record of the Grizzlies and the strong home record of OKC. If Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony play, Memphis probably won’t have the fire power to compete, even with Tyreke back. If they’re both out? The odds of an upset win go up.

Here’s how the Grizzlies can pick up the win.

Attack Paul George

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

This is important whether Westbrook and Anthony play or not. On one hand, if OKC is once again short handed then Paul George is the one true threat to score the ball in bunches for the Thunder. Russ and Melo sat out the last game for OKC against the Lakers and their second leading scorer after George (29 points) was Steven Adams at 13 points. Without George, they would be hopeless. If Westbrook and Melo do play, Russ is going to get his regardless of what the Grizzlies do, and Carmelo isn’t good enough anymore to be the main offensive option on a successful team.

But George is. So regardless of injury report updates, the Grizzlies must make PG-13 a priority.

Dillon Brooks: Tyreke Evans’ biggest fan

NBA: Orlando Magic at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

With Tyreke Evans out the last five games due to the Grizzlies apparently struggling when it comes to trading assets, Dillon Brooks has had to take on a larger share of the offensive burden. That has gone about as well as you’d expect for a 2nd round pick being asked to be a top scoring option- Brooks is shooting 20-67 over the last five games, or 29.8% from the floor overall. This is well below Dillon’s 45.3% season average. I have talked repeatedly over the course of the season about how Brooks is outside of his ideal role of a reserve on a good team due to all the injuries. This is not his fault, and explains his poor net rating (-10) and other stats that aren’t friendly to him. If you’ve watched the Grizzlies this season, you know he is good. He is just not capable of doing what Memphis needs him to do right now.

But Evans’ return makes Dillon’s life easier. Look for Brooks to have an efficient scoring night tonight, especially when sharing the floor with both Tyreke and Marc Gasol. It’s probably as close as Dillon will get this season to what is role should be in Memphis.

The Prediction

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies have a much better chance of winning now that Evans is back, whether you like it or not. But the Thunder are very good at home, and Memphis is especially bad outside of FedExForum. The injury report for the Thunder bears watching, but even if Russ and Melo are out the Grizzlies have no answer for Paul George. That’s probably enough.

Oklahoma City 105, Memphis 99

Follow @sbngrizzlies