WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, TN
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Bally Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Brandon Clarke (Out, knee), Sam Merrill (Out, ankle), Ja Morant (Out, Knee), Ziaire Williams (Out, ankle), Santi Aldama (Out, calf)
OKLAHOMA CITY: None...wow...in the December 2021 NBA? Don’t believe me? Here.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP:
MEMPHIS: Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
OKLAHOMA CITY: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Aaron Wiggins, Lu Dort, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
The grand thing about the NBA compared to other sports is the opportunity for a quick turnaround. It’s easy to have the goldfish mentality, as renowned coach Ted Lasso deployed as a culture pillar.
The Memphis Grizzlies returned home from a 2-game road trip, and unfortunately came away with a loss last night to a hungry Portland Trail Blazers team. Today’s a new day, however, as the Grizzlies will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight.
Last time these two teams matched up, we witnessed history.
These were the same two teams that were a part of the historic 73-point blowout in the FedExForum earlier this month. It was the most intense blowout game I’ve ever seen in my life, to be honest.
However, the Oklahoma City Thunder look a little bit different in this one. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and (former Grizzly draft target) Josh Giddey will be back in the mix, as both will provided more offensive juice as creators for a creation-depleted Thunder squad.
What are some keys to this games?
Expect intense energy from the other side
Losing always stings, but being on the wrong side on a historic defeat has to hit a little different.
With that, it shouldn’t come at a shock to see the Oklahoma City Thunder come out looking for blood. That game was pretty demoralizing, and they really got beat soundly all 4 quarters, getting outscored by at least 15 or more points in each period. They’re going to come out swinging, searching for vengeance.
Will it be successful? I’m not totally sure. After all, they are the only team in the West with single-digit wins — only 3rd in the league with that few wins.
However, they are talented. Gilgeous-Alexander is a star-level shot creator that the Thunder lean on in driving situations. Giddey can create stuff out of nothing with his passing. Dort’s two-way wrecking ball that’s provided more punch as an offensive player. There’s always those random explosions too — Aleksej Pokusevski dropped freaking 23 points and hit 5 three’s in a game against Memphis last season.
Regardless, there will be an edge on the Thunder’s side, looking to avenge that big loss. The Grizzlies will need to bring a good sense of urgency, so they don’t avoid slipping this game away.
Getting Jaren Jackson Jr. going
Jaren Jackson Jr. has been pretty inconsistent the past few games — though with his off nights happening against Portland, it may be a matchup deal. Anyways, he also struggled to stay on the floor in last night’s game, as he fouled out in 20 minutes of play.
To increase their chances of winning, Jackson will need to be on the floor in a much bigger capacity. Not only is he the Grizzlies best player right now, while also being a force on defense, but the Thunder simply don’t have an answer for him.
In (ironically enough) 20 minutes in their last matchup, Jackson put up 27 points on 9-11 shooting — 6-7 from 3. They simply don’t have a matchup answer for him, and telling by their minutes distribution last game, there’s no added solution for him either.
Jackson has added more punch as a two-point scorer over the past month, finding his footing in driving and post-up situations. They’re going to continue utilizing that, while he also searches for his 3-ball as well, in order to be comfortable in this game.
Spoiler: This won’t be a 73-point game.
That is something historic, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t expect another ass-kicking in similar fashion. The Thunder will be playing with an extra edge, and they’re getting back legit NBA creators — one that’s a potent scorer.
However, I do think the Memphis Grizzlies will come out with a good level of urgency as well, as they look to bounce back from last night’s loss against Portland. The fact that 2 of their 3 best players did not play well last night should also translate to a bounce-back performance from them as well.
I’m going to go with a win - a comfortable one, not necessarily a blow-out - but a whole lot less nerves than a close game.
Final score prediction: Grizzlies - 119, Thunder 103.