WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS-Mike Conley (Out, heel), Wayne Selden Jr. (Out, knee), Chandler Parsons (Questionable, knee), JaMychal Green (Questionable, illness)
OKLAHOMA CITY-Carmelo Anthony (Questionable, ankle), Russell Westbrook (Questionable, ankle), Andrew Robterson (Out, patellar tendon)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP-
MEMPHIS-Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
OKLAHOMA CITY-Russell Westbrook, Josh Huestis, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Steven Adams
While the Grizzlies are still reeling from their last loss on Sunday, they’ll face the same OKC Thunder team tonight in the FedExForum. And despite the fact that it’s Valentine’s Day, there will be no love shown between these two rivals.
After everyone recovered from the shock that Tyreke Evans was still a Memphis Grizzly, he came out Sunday against the Thunder and had a poor showing with only 12 points on 3-11 shooting. The Thunder took the lead in the first half and easily never looked back.
How could Memphis exact revenge on the Thunder tonight on their home court? Here’s how:
Stay out of Foul Trouble
The Grizzlies got off to a decent start offensively Sunday against OKC, but early foul issues really slowed them down and allowed the Thunder to regain the lead for the rest of the game. The Grizzlies had 32 personal fouls compared to the Thunder’s 23. Early on in the first half, players like Andrew Harrison got into foul trouble, and the already short-handed Grizz were forced to dip deeper into their reserves.
While the Grizzlies cannot control personnel, they can try to control unnecessary fouling as a team. By doing this, they’ll limit the Thunder going to the line so much. In Sunday’s match, the Thunder had 40 free throw attempts.
(At Least Attempt to) Contain Paul George
The last match against Paul George didn’t go well for Memphis. With players like Jarell Martin having to guard George, he went off for 33 points, 3 steals and 8 assists. This was partially worsened by the Grizzlies’ early fouling troubles, as they had to put multiple players on George throughout the game. Honestly, the Grizzlies just had no answer for George’s athleticism and talent.
Tonight, it’s paramount for the Grizzlies to keep George at least semi-contained in the game from an offensive perspective. If Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony are still out, limiting George to less than 25 points would be a huge win for Memphis.
Get Tyreke Evans Back Into his Groove
On the offensive side of things for Memphis, Tyreke Evans is the key. He’s the leading scorer on the team, and with players like Mike Conley out, a large portion of the scoring load now falls on him.
He struggled offensively on Sunday, but part of this could be due to him having to sit several games before the trade deadline, which was supposed to preserve his trade value. Unfortunately, the trade deadline was a bust for Memphis, and now Evans is faced playing the rest of the season with a tanking team.
His motivation and mind could be pretty distracted after the tumultuous events of the past week. Now, it’s time for him to get back in the game and compete at the level at which he was competing before.
This past Sunday, the Thunder proved that they don’t need Westbrook or Anthony to beat Memphis. They did so handily. Paul George is their main offensive weapon with the other two OKC Big 3 members out, and Memphis has no answer for him. If they could manage to limit him to less than 30 points and stay out of foul trouble, the Beale Street Bears could stand a chance on their home court. Surely, having their fans behind them helps, but the Grizzlies are up for a massive challenge tonight. Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol need big offensive showings, and the Grizzlies have to control the pace of this one.
Oklahoma City 108, Memphis 95