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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Game Preview

Can the Grizzlies play to their potential to get a needed win?

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NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (46-22, 22-12 away) vs. Oklahoma City (20-46, 9-24 at home)

WHEN: 6:00 P.M. CT

WHERE: Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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

BETTING INFORMATION (per DraftKings) - Memphis (-12.5), O/U 229.5


MEMPHIS: Dillon Brooks (Questionable, ankle)

OKLAHOMA CITY: Lu Dort (Out, Shoulder), Derrick Favors (Out, Back), Josh Giddey (Out, Hip), Ty Jerome (Out, Hip), Mike Muscala (Out, Ankle), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Out, Foot), Kenrich Williams (Out, Knee), Tre Mann (Questionable, Ankle)


MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Ziaire Williams, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams

OKLAHOMA CITY: Aaron Wiggins, Isaiah Roby, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley, Lindy Waters III

After the Warriors victory last night over the Bucks, the Grizzlies find themselves in a heated battle for second place in the Western Conference playoff standings.

And while the Grizzlies certainly are favored against the Thunder in an away game in Oklahoma City, the presence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander thwarts any guarantees of victory. As a result, defense becomes the primary focus for the Grizzlies.

With defense in mind, the questionable return of Dillon Brooks emerges as the most compelling storyline for this matchup against the Thunder.

For the first time since his ankle injury against the Clippers on January 8th, Dillon Brooks has a reasonable chance to return versus the Thunder. Taylor Jenkins suggested that Brooks could return on this upcoming road trip. His injury status being upgraded to questionable certainly supports the fact that his return is imminent.

While Brooks being available certainly helps the Grizzlies, the presence of SGA is certainly a threat to reckon with. For the Grizzlies to win, they must limit the ability of Gilgeous-Alexander to contribute to the Thunder’s ability to score.

Limit SGA

With Lu Dort, Josh Giddey, Derrick Favors, and Kenrich Williams likely out for the Thunder, the key for Memphis is simply limiting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA has scored 57 points in his last two matchups versus the Grizzlies, with both appearances resulting in a win. If the Grizzlies can focus on limiting the production of SGA, they have to like their chances of preventing another member of the Thunder from having a breakout game.

While this philosophy may seem simple, its execution is far from a guarantee. Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 30.1 PPG since the All-Star Break. As a result, the Grizzlies must limit SGA’s production from the opening tip to prevent him from finding a rhythm early.

Dominate the Boards

OKC ranks 24th in offensive rebounds allowed per game and 30th in total rebounds allowed per game. This is the perfect setup for Steven Adams to shine. The Grizzlies should establish control of this game early by establishing a possession advantage. If Adams can establish his presence on the offensive boards, the Grizzlies should control the possession advantage early and often. This should lead to the best avenue for the Grizzlies to win their matchup against the Thunder.

You may consider this a trap game for the Grizzlies. That is likely a sentiment that the Grizzlies recognize as well. At the end of the day, if the Grizzlies simply play to the best of their ability, they should be able to take control of this game early and earn an easy victory. However, that only happens if the Grizzlies can limit the production of SGA. With that being the likely focus, their should be plenty of faith in the Grizzlies earning another victory to solidify their claim for the second spot in the Western Conference playoff standings.

Final Score: Grizzlies 115, Thunder 103

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