WHERE: Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: De’Anthony Melton (Out, back), Jonas Valanciunas (Out, foot)
OKLAHOMA CITY: Andre Roberson (Questionable, Knee)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Jae Crowder, Brandon Clarke, Jaren Jackson Jr.
OKLAHOMA CITY: Dennis Schroder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Danilo Gallinari, Nerlens Noel
The Grizzlies dropped their first NBA preseason game on Monday against the lowly Hornets. It’s preseason, so it doesn’t necessarily matter, but it is at least a little concerning the team came out flat with nearly a week to prepare after their first two preseason matchups against International squads.
Up next for the Grizzlies in preseason action is a matchup against an Oklahoma City squad that looks a lot different now than they did last season. Russell Westbrook and Paul George are long gone, and Chris Paul looks to lead a semi-rebuilding Thunder squad to a relevant season.
A win or loss tonight means nothing in the long run, but there is still a lot for Grizz fans to take in tonight. Here are some keys to tonight’s matchup.
Tonight’s matchup will be the first time this young Grizzlies squad plays a game on the road. Although this is meaningless for guys like Jae Crowder and Miles Plumlee, it’ll be interesting to see how Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke and the other young Grizzlies respond in their first road action of the season. Although Chesapeake Energy Arena is likely to be more tame than a regular season game, how does the team communicate if OKC goes on a run? How do they react in general to an opposing crowd? Does the team come out tired and restless after a day of travel?
It’s still preseason, but it’ll be interesting to see if being on the road impacts the teams play.
Jaren has had an up-and-down preseason so far. His stats have looked great against the two International squads even if he hasn’t necessarily been “locked in” resulting in him getting posterized against the New Zealand Breakers. However, Jaren played horribly against the Hornets on Monday scoring just 6 points, 5 rebounds and fouling out in just 20 minutes of play against a weak Hornets frontcourt. It will be interesting to see how Jaren responds to the dud of a game Monday night. Does he let it carry over to OKC, or does he step up and look more like the JJJ we saw the first two preseason games?
The Grizzlies still have a handful of roster battles to figure out over the next week. I touched on the final roster cuts on Monday, but there are also some position battles to look at as well. The starting shooting guard spot seems to be a wide open battle between Grayson Allen, Dillon Brooks and Marko Guduric. There are plenty of minutes to be had on the wing. Did Ivan Rabb potentially save his job with his near double-double Monday night? Watching how these players play, especially with the added pressure of their role/roster spot being on the line, is one of the most exciting things about preseason basketball in my opinion.
The outcome of tonight’s game is meaningless, but the way the team plays is not. Tonight is one game closer to the regular season, and Taylor Jenkins still has a lot to figure out with this roster and his rotations. Look for the young guys to potentially struggle out of the gates in the first road game of the year but also expect Jaren to improve upon his dud on Monday.
We will all forget the result of tonight’s game come October 23rd, but tonight's game could have a huge impact on what the team looks like on the opening night
Keep an eye on the rotation guys and see how they play. Someone will likely do just enough to save their job, while another may play themselves out of it.