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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Game Preview

Grizzlies look to keep rolling against Thunder

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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

WHO: Oklahoma City Thunder (6-14, 2-8 away) @ Memphis Grizzlies (11-10, 7-5 home)

WHEN: 7:00 PM CT

WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant (Out, knee), Sam Merrill (Out, ankle), Ziaire Williams (Doubtful, knee), Kyle Anderson (Questionable, back)

OKLAHOMA CITY: Kenrich Williams (Out, ankle), Derrick Favors (Out, illness), Josh Giddey (Out, illness) Mike Muscala (Questionable, ankle)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP:

MEMPHIS: Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams

OKLAHOMA CITY: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tre Mann (?), Luguentz Dort, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Darius Bazley


The Memphis Grizzlies are entering an important stretch beginning Thursday — no, I’m not talking about more games without Ja Morant, I’m talking about December. During the 12th month of the year, the Grizzlies play 14 of their 16 games against Western Conference teams. That means this month is huge as far as positioning in the conference.

In the team’s first two games without Ja, it’s been so far so good. The team is 2-0 after picking up a nice win on the road in Toronto on Tuesday night. If the Grizz are going to stay afloat while their superstar is on the shelf, then they have to beat the teams they are better than. I know that should go without saying, but we have seen the Grizzlies underachieve against teams they are more talented then.

Enter the Thunder — another team the Grizzlies should beat. Prior to their Wednesday night game against Houston, OKC has lost 6 straight and 8 of their last 9. While those numbers aren’t good, the majority of those losses were against teams that are considered title contenders, such as Utah, Milwaukee, Brooklyn, and Miami. In only one of those games did they get blown out, so they are no pushover.

Here are a few keys on how the Grizzlies can keep their win streak going Thursday night.

Keep Up the Pressure

Memphis Grizzlies v Toronto Raptors Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

I know it’s a very small sample size, but the Grizzlies have the best defensive rating in the entire NBA when you look at the last 2 games of all 30 NBA teams. As far as the entire season goes, the Grizzlies are still dead last in the NBA. That shows just how bad they were in the first 19 games of the season.

But, it seems as if the Grizzlies have found their footing on defense. They held both Sacramento and Toronto to under 102 points — only had done that twice all season before that. The Grizz also held both teams to below 39% shooting from the field. Chances are, if you do both of those things, you are going to win a lot of basketball games. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks have both been very aggressive on the defensive end and it’s paid off huge so far.

Unleash the 3-Headed Monster

Memphis Grizzlies v LA Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

If the Grizzlies are going to continue to win, they are going to need to keep getting solid games out of Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, and Dillon Brooks. Game after game, Bane continues to show just how much of a draft night steal he was for the Grizzlies. In the win over the Kings, the three combined for 56 points; 65 combined in the victory in Toronto.

In my opinion, the offense should go through Jaren, with Bane as the second option, and Dillon #3. Let “The Villain” thrive on the defensive and focus on being that annoyance for the other team’s best player. Bane and JJJ have also been way more efficient from the floor, but Dillon makes the shots when most needed, so the offense must run through one of those three.

Final Prediction

I think the Grizzlies will take advantage of catching OKC on a SEGABABA, by hitting them in the mouth out of the gate. The Grizz seem to be clicking at the right time, on offense and definitely on defense. Even without their best player, the Grizzlies are still more talented than OKC and will show it Thursday night.

Final: Grizzlies 117 OKC 109

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