Thunder vs. Grizzlies: Game Preview


Most people have the common sense to run the other way when they see a bear in the woods.

The Thunder don’t have that option.

The Memphis Grizzlies last saw the Thunder in a bloody fist fight of a 7-game series, cough *Zach Randolph* cough, which ended in somewhat of a controversial fashion with the suspension of Randolph for the 7th game.

Now, the Grizzlies (5-0) look primed for some major payback against the Thunder (1-4), a team that signed Ish Smith because it only has 1 healthy GUARD. The road doesn’t look to pretty for the Thunder in their second game at the Peake.

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  • In a world where the Thunder did not piss off the basketball gods to the point that they plagued them with injuries, this series and this preview would be much more entertaining. But that’s just not happening. What the Thunder can do, however, is gain much needed experience for their younger players while building the chemistry that has shown itself in their close loses to the Clippers and Raptors.

    The prospects are not too horribly grim for the Thunder though. Jeremy Lamb is set to make his season debut, Jackson seems ready to go and there is an outside chance that Anthony Morrow could make an appearance as well. The prospect of Lamb returning is probably the brightest spot coming into tonight’s game. Lamb has the chance to finally show the Thunder and it’s fans that he has the scoring ability and potential to be a rotation player and possibly more.

    As for the Grizzlies, this season has gotten off to a blazing start of 5-0, a franchise best. Randolph and Gasol (Marc) look to be in good form so far this season, one leading in points (Gasol, 21.6) and the other in rebounds (Randolph, 11.0). Coach David Joerger has received good effort from his guards, Courtney Lee and Mike Conley, and has a year under his belt with this team that has changed little from last season.

    This game will not have the passion and tension of previous regular and post season series from the past few years. But it’s a home game for the Thunder, so who knows what crazy shenanigans will go down in the Peake tonight?

    Here are 3 big keys for the Thunder game plan tonight:

    1. Foul Trouble

    The frontcourt for the Grizzlies is arguably the most talented and athletic in the NBA. In the past, Perkins has trouble with covering both, mostly because of their ability to shoot from range. Steven Adams is also known to foul quite a bit. With a short bench, foul trouble for Adams, Perkins and Ibaka will be key for the Thunder, especially if the game is close in the 4th quarter.

    2. Perimeter Shooting

    Because the Grizzlies are a defensive oriented team who can be tough to score in the paint against, 3-point shooting will be a HUGE factor in this game. With Jackson having an inconsistent perimeter game, the only semi-solid 3-point shooter is Serge Ibaka (yes, you did read that right). With Jeremy Lamb and Anthony Morrow’s possible return, having a good perimeter game will be of the upmost importance if the Thunder want to have a chance to stay in this game.

    3. Luck

    Luck is not a quantifiable stat in basketball and most people don’t believe in it, but luck will be a major factor in tonight’s game. The Thunder will need to be lucky in hitting a few shots they normally wouldn’t and lucky in having Memphis play below the level they have played at so far this season.

    Prediction: Grizzlies 109, Thunder 95

    The return of some Thunder players will make this a decent game, but it still won’t be much to look at. It might be close at the end of the 3rd quarter, but the Grizzlies will pull away with a healthy/deep bench.

    Oklahoma City will play Memphis at the Chesapeake Arena tonight at 7:00 p.m. (CST) on ESPN. Play-by-play will be on 98.1 FM as always, with Matt Pinto.