WHERE: Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
WHEN: 7:00PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Grayson Allen (Out, Ankle)
OKLAHOMA CITY- Hamidou Diallo (Out, Elbow); Andre Roberson (Out, Knee)
MEMPHIS- Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jae Crowder, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
OKLAHOMA CITY- Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Terrance Ferguson, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams
Don’t look now, but the Memphis Grizzlies are 4-1 in their last five games and are surging. This team is firing on all cylinders and have become the NBA’s darling with Ja Morant leading the charge. His once a game posterizing makes NBA Twitter adore him and this team. They have become one of the favorite League Pass teams to watch from outside the community and fan base.
Tonight, they will be back on the road again to face the Oklahoma City Thunder. This was once a solid rivalry in the Western Conference but now both teams have much different identities. Nonetheless, this will be a great a match-up of the two great, young scoring guards in the game today. It will be Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Ja Morant. A nice snapshot of what the league will look like years down the road.
The Thunder are coming off an impressive comeback win over the Bulls after they were down 26 points in the second quarter. They clawed their way back in to secure the win. OKC will come into this one a few games below .500 as they have still tried to find an identity for themselves with Paul George being traded to Los Angeles.
This will be the first time these two teams match-up in the regular season this year, but do not forget this is where Dillon Brooks went off for his 30 point game in the preseason. Maybe Brooks just likes this arena to where he could show out and be a lead scorer again tonight. Either way, the Grizzlies have been rolling as of late getting contributions from everyone. They have been playing great team basketball anchored on consistent play from the young kids on this team. The Grizzlies look to continue this as they take on this tough Thunder team.
Here’s two things to watch for in tonight’s contest:
The Wiley Veteran vs. The Young Superstar
One of the most intriguing subplots for this game is going to be Chris Paul matching up against Ja Morant. Through all of his most hated qualities, Chris Paul is still one of the best point guards to ever play the game. He is disliked by most of Grizz Nation from his antics over the years, but unfortunately you have to respect his skill. That is why tonight is going to be very interesting to see how he goes against young Ja Morant.
It is clear to everyone how impressive of an offensive talent Morant has already become. He can score at will and takes over games in the fourth quarter putting the team on his back. Well, Chris Paul also knows this, and he will make it his mission to slow Morant down and give him an introduction to the league on Paul’s terms. Paul will make it as difficult as possible for Morant all night. Over the years, he has been one of the better on-ball defenders for the point guard position, and it will be taken up a notch tonight. Chris Paul seems like he lives for match-ups like this.
Tonight will be yet another test for Morant’s career. It may not make much news or headlines, but Morant will have the chance to go against one of the greats head-to-head in a road environment. Chris Paul is not getting any younger, so Morant will hopefully be able to beat him with his quickness and spring in his step that Paul does not possess any more. However, don’t think that Paul won’t pull some tricks out of his bag and try and fool the young rookie. This one will be fun.
Old School Bully Ball Head-to-Head
The other match-up to watch for tonight is Jonas Valanciunas facing off against Steven Adams. This is your old school style of match-up. Both of these guys have a hard time fitting in this new era NBA and would have been perfect for the 90s era of NBA. Tonight, they will go up against one another and be able to both thrive in their more comfortable game.
It will be fun to watch a different style of basketball than the high flying, three point heavy game. Adams and Valanciunas are two of the last standing bruisers in today’s game. Hopefully, they both will be able to try and post up each other without a double team trying to help. It will be important for JV to keep Adams off the glass as well. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke will not fare well against the physical nature of Steven Adams. Valanciunas will get some good minutes tonight.
With all that being said, I think the Grizzlies will continue to roll. They are playing great basketball, and even away from home I think can get the win. Morant, Jackson, and the young guys have been surprising teams with their athleticism. The Thunder are a team that will not be able to match this. Chris Paul will reach into his bag of tricks, but Ja will have the last laugh of the night.
Spread: Grizzlies +6.5
Take the Grizzlies plus the points, or if you want to get crazy, take the Grizzlies ML at +225
Grizzlies- 113, Thunder- 110