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Game Preview: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Can the Memphis Grizzlies please not blow a lead again?

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (29-44, 19-18 home) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (43-30, 20-18 road)

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT-

MEMPHIS- Dillon Brooks (Out, Toe); Kyle Anderson (Out, Shoulder); Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, Quad); C.J. Miles (Out, Foot); Avery Bradley (Out, Shin Contusion); Joakim Noah (Doubtful, Knee Soreness)

OKLAHOMA CITY- Andre Roberson (Patella Tendon)

PROBABLE STARTERS-

MEMPHIS- Mike Conley, Tyler Dorsey, Justin Holiday, Bruno Caboclo, Jonas Valanciunas

OKLAHOMA CITY- Russell Westbrook, Terrance Ferguson, Paul George, Jerami Grant, Steven Adams


The Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder are coming in to this game on the midst of small slumps.

After winning 3 games in a row, the Grizzlies have dropped four of their past 5, possessing significant leads in all except one game. In a race to convey the pick to Boston, games are becoming much more significant as the season is winding down. The injury list also continues to add up — not to mention the nagging ailments players are playing with right now — so the odds they convey the pick are becoming slimmer by the day.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder did get a big win over the Toronto Raptors the other night, but prior to that, they lost four in a row. The Thunder must turn it around, if they want to avoid a first-round date with the Denver Nuggets or Golden State Warriors. They’re only a half game ahead of the 8th-seeded San Antonio Spurs, and they must secure wins against lottery teams like the Grizzlies if they want to enjoy a nice spring.


Major Key Alert: Control the Glass

The Oklahoma City Thunder are the second-best rebounding team in the league (48.1), while the Grizzlies are second-to-last (40.1).

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t look good for Memphis.

If they want a chance to steal a win against another playoff-bound squad, they must keep the Thunder off the glass. They are battling 3 prolific rebounders at their respective positions — Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, and Paul George.

Guys like Jonas Valanciunas and Ivan Rabb will be tasked with manning the glass for the Grizzlies. Valanciunas is coming off a monster week where he averaged 25.3 points and 17.7 rebounds. If he can keep Adams off the glass and coral 10-15 rebounds, that’ll go a long way in ensuring a Grizzlies victory.

if Joakim Noah is out, Ivan Rabb will be in charge of manning the middle for the Grizzlies’ second unit. His numbers are promising when he gets a chance to produce, averaging 9.6 points and 7.5 rebounds when given between 20 and 29 minutes. Hopefully, J.B. Bickerstaff gives Rabb some run, as this time of the season is crucial for the development of young players on lottery teams.


Matchup to Watch For

Russell Westbrook and Mike Conley will be the star-studded match-up to watch for sure. That match-up will be even more fun to watch, as Conley is near the franchise record in total career points.

However, the real battle to watch for tonight is Jonas Valanciunas and Steven Adams.

Both of these brutes are similar old-school games, as they set hard screens, dominate the glass, and finish around the rim with superb efficiency.

If you’re an old-school basketball fan that misses the old days, this one is for you.

Follow @sbngrizzlies for updates throughout the game.