WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: FOX Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley (Out, heel), Marc Gasol (Out, rest), Chandler Parsons (Out, knees), Andrew Harrison (Out, wrist/shoulder), JaMychal Green (knees), Wayne Selden Jr. (Out, knees), Jarell Martin (Out, ankle), Tyreke Evans (Out, personal)
OKLAHOMA CITY- Alex Abrines (Questionable, concussion), Andre Roberson (Out, knee)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS- Kobi Simmons, Ben McLemore, Dillon Brooks, Ivan Rabb, Deyonta Davis
OKLAHOMA CITY- Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Corey Brewer, Carmelo Anthony, Steven Adams
Finally, after 81 games, 175 days, and six separate losing streaks of three games or more...we’re here.
A season to forget has reached its conclusion.
24 players, many of whom were never expected to be a part of this franchise period, much less getting meaningful minutes, have represented the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2017-2018 campaign. Two head coaches, one fired and one enduring the uncertainty that comes from bearing the “Interim” tag through a majority of this season, have tried to get this team playing at a higher level, but with little success. Injuries and media summits, MarShons and McLemores...up and down, it’s all led to tonight.
The #2 odds in the 2018 NBA Draft lottery are locked in for the Grizzlies, and their opponent tonight, the Oklahoma City Thunder, has clinched a playoff spot. This game is extremely meaningful for the Thunder - OKC could still, in theory, get up to the sixth or even the fourth seed in the postseason. The Thunder are getting ready for the playoffs with star power and the hope of home court in the first round still in grasp.
The Grizzlies are getting ready to go fishing. So, why watch this game?
Because it is the last one.
Because you made it this far.
Because there is a high likelihood that Russell Westbrook will try to get at least 16 rebounds so he can average a triple double again, and that pursuit will be hilariously infuriating to see.
Because even after all of this, you will indeed miss them.
Two players in particular to watch tonight.
Strong finishes from Simmons and Rabb
Kobi Simmons played probably his best game against the Pistons on Sunday night, showcasing his ability to score the basketball in a variety of ways while creating for others. 20 points, 7 assists, efficient shooting (7-10 overall, 4-7 from three)...his offensive game’s potential was on display. Kobi has played far more than anyone could have imagined he would for Memphis (at least the Grizzlies) this year, and the two-way contracted Simmons is seemingly more a part of the future for the Grizzlies than anyone could have predicted eight months ago.
A strong season finale would be nice icing on the cake.
Same thing goes for Ivan Rabb. The 2017 2nd round pick has had impressive showings recently, grabbing rebounds at a decent clip and showing something that other recent Grizzlies picks have lacked - basketball IQ. He seems to have a grasp of time and place when he rolls to the rim, and the angles necessary in help defense. His potential isn’t just athletic. He shares with Dillon Brooks that understanding of the game, and even against those that may be more athletic than them, this intelligence will pay off in the long term.
These are two young players who haven’t always been at the forefront of our thoughts when it comes to this roster. But given how this whole year has played out, they’ve gotten chances of late to show what they’re made of. Tonight is that last chance...until Summer League, at least.
A season of losses ends with one more. The Thunder take the win, and the Grizzlies head into an offseason that at least has some level of certainty thanks to the Robert Pera ownership news.
Oklahoma City 104, Memphis 93