- When: Thursday, 12 July 2018 at 5:00 pm CST
- Where: Cox Pavilion, Las Vegas, NV
- TV: NBATV
Another long regular season in the books and the Oklahoma City Thunder have, once again, made it to the playoffs. This past week of games has been a long and arduous road, but one that has seen the team grow from a bunch of unknowns to contenders. After a 2-1 regular season, the Thunder found themselves as the 6th seed in the Las Vegas Summer League playoffs. Anything can happen from here on out as the playoffs are a tournament format where you either win or go home.
After losing the first game of summer league by 1 point, the Thunder went on to win their last two regular season games comfortably by double figures.
The Thunder will face the 27th-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, who come into the playoffs with a 1-2 record. This comes on the heels of them finishing 2-0 in the summer league in Utah that was held before the Vegas summer league. They split their first two games of the summer league and then got blasted in their regular season finale against Orlando, 86-56.
Three Keys to the Game
1. Interior Play
Both teams come into this game with strong front lines. The Grizzlies have a trio of big men (Deyonta Davis, Jaren Jackson Jr, and Ivan Rabb) who are all, remarkably, averaging exactly 9.0 rebounds per game. Each runs 6’10 or taller and are extremely athletic. This may be an issue for the Thunder, whose front line has been their consistent strength. Dakari Johnson and Rashawn Thomas have been tremendous for the Thunder this summer league, but both will have their short-comings when facing the Grizzles’ trio of bigs. Johnson will struggle athletically against Davis and Thomas may be too short for Jackson Jr and Rabb. If the Thunder can somehow win this battle, it will go a long way to helping them win this game.
2. Point Guard Play
I like Daniel Hamilton’s ability to be a point guard at 6’7″. But, in reality, he’s not a true point guard. And against a bulldog defender like Jevon Carter, this may be an issue. Hamilton’s handle can, at times, be a little shaky. Against a defender like Carter, there may be an issue with the Thunder setting up their offense.
3. Terrance Ferguson
I know he’s been working on shoring up the weaker points of his game in this summer league (handling the ball and play-making). But this may be the game to let him loose and see what he can do as the primary scorer.