The Memphis Grizzlies will travel to Oklahoma City to play a Thunder team that they have split the season series with so far. Most will remember the record-breaking 70+ point win the Grizzlies had against the Thunder on December 12th when both Josh Giddey and Shai Gilegeous Alexander were out, but the next matchup went very differently with both teams at near full strength as the Thunder got a 3-point win.
The Thunder enter tonight’s matchup on a 4-game losing streak while the Grizzlies have won three of their last four. The Grizzlies also look to get a boost as Dillon Brooks has been upgraded to questionable for Sunday’s game. Brooks has not played in over two months and would probably come off the bench, but his return should bring a different level of energy and focus to this Grizzlies team on both ends of the floor.
Before the game, I spoke with Sarah Dewberry (SarahhDewberry), Site Manager of SBNation’s “Welcome to Loud city” about tonight’s matchup and the future outlook of the Thunder.
The duo of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey has been fun to watch all season. What do you like most about their games and how do they complement each other?
Sarah Dewberry - Giddey and SGA compliment each other so well because they are close in age, and they are both unselfish and know how to drive to the basketball and score. The two of them know how to process and see the game.
Outside of Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander, who is another player that has surprised you this season?
SD - I feel like Aaron Wiggins has really stepped up for the Thunder, especially against the Timberwolves when he scored a career-high 25 points. SGA did not play well that game, so someone had to step up, and the rookie did just that.
What do the Thunder do well that could give the Grizzlies problems on Sunday?
SD - If Memphis wants to win, they’ll need to stop SGA, plain and simple. He’s the star of OKC. After the All-Star break, the shooting guard has been averaging 33 points per game and shooting 57% from the field.
This is a matchup between the two youngest teams in the league; however, they are at very different points in the rebuilding process. What do the Thunder need to do going forward to take the next step?
SD - They need more experienced players. That’s what was so great about Chris Paul. The younger players listened to him, and he listened to them. Since there are not a lot of veterans on the team, there really isn’t anyone to help shape this very young team.
Finally, what is your impression of Ja Morant’s ascension this season, and what will the Thunder do to try and slow him down?
SD - Morant can’t be stopped. He will be named the MVP this year. The only thing OKC can hope for is that he has an off-night.
Huge shoutout to Sarah Dewberry for being a part of this article and for the MVP endorsement of Ja Morant. For my prediction, I believe that Morant and Gilgeous-Alexander will go back and forth but the depth of the Grizzlies will come through in the end. Expect a big game from Jaren Jackson Jr. who has averaged 21 points in two games vs the Thunder as the Grizzlies win close game 115-110.