- When: Tuesday, 14 January 2014 at 7:00 PM CST
- Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been, what I like to call, consistently inconsistent. In their last 10 games, the Thunder have won 3, then lost 2, then won 2, then lost 2, and won their last game. It’s your basic microcosm of life without Russell Westbrook. Strings of good games, followed by ‘scratch your head’ losses. It’s a case where you say, “the team could be doing better, but, honestly, it could also be doing worse.”
The Thunder, in their current situation, should find some familiarity with tonight’s foe, the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies were the team that finally finished off the Thunder last season after Westbrook went down. After winning the first game of the series, the Thunder went on to lose the next 4 in frustrating fashion. They had shots to win all four games, but with the Grizzlies corralling Kevin Durant and him tiring near the end of games, it became too much for the Thunder in that series. This is the second meeting of the season between these two teams with the Thunder winning the first game, 116-100.
The Grizzlies currently find themselves at 17-19, trying to claw back into the playoff race in the Western Conference. A season removed from being a participant in the Western Conference Finals, the Grizz have had their share of injuries and inner turmoil. Dave Joerger replaced popular head coach Lionel Hollins in the offseason and Marc Gasol suffered a sprained MCL in November and has gone on to miss two months. The team has trouble scoring (96.6 ppg – 21st in the league), but keep things close by boasting a good defense. The offense is keyed by point guard Mike Conley, who leads the team in scoring and assists. Recent pick-up Courtney Lee will play beside Conley and provide some perimeter scoring. Up front, Zach Randolph is a double-double machine and Kosta Koufos is a big mobile body. Off the bench, Mike Miller can still go off at any point in a game.
Probable Starting Line-Up
- PG – Mike Conley
- SG – Courtney Lee
- SF – Tayshaun Prince
- PF – Zach Randolph
- C -Kosta Koufos
Late note: Marc Gasol is active for tonight’s game and will be starting.
Oklahoma City Thunder
- PG – Reggie Jackson
- SG – Thabo Sefolosha
- SF – Kevin Durant
- PF – Serge Ibaka
- C – Kendrick Perkins
3 Keys to the Game
1. Transition – Memphis loves to slow the game to a crawl and create from their half court offense. If the Thunder can force turnovers and make it more of a transition game, that will be to their benefit.
2. Conley – The key to stopping the Grizzlies from the Thunder’s perspective is to stay in front of Conley. The Thunder have plenty of players that can defend Randolph well (Collison, Ibaka, Perkins). But they need to stay with Conley to limit everything else the Grizzlies can do.
3. Durant’s wrist – I thought this would have been a good game for Durant to sit out, but, alas, the basketball player likes to play basketball. Keep that wrist wrapped up and let’s hope for no big falls.