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Who: Memphis Grizzlies (26-20) Oklahoma City (38-11)
When:
 Monday, February 3rd 7:00 PM CST
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Watch and Listen: Sportsouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Discuss: 3SOB on Twitter / 3SOB Forum, Grizzlies Message Boards

The Scoop:

This is where Life Without Conley gets really tough. Granted, the Thunder are missing their starting point guard, too, but while Reggie Jackson has established himself as a legitimate contributor who could start for several teams, everyone is still walking on eggshells when it comes to Nick Calathes. Meanwhile, the Thunder saw their 10-game winning streak snapped at the hands of a rather fiesty Wizards team, and they’ll be looking to take their frustrations out on a Grizzlies team that is operating well below 100%. This will not be an easy one for the Grizzlies, but if they pull it out, we’ll know this team really has something.

Projected Matchups:

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Nick Calathes vs Reggie Jackson
Jackson was decent enough in the second round series between the Grizzlies and the Thunder, but still, you could really feel Westbrook’s absence. Considering how good he’s looked lately, the Thunder would likely have a better chance if that series were to be played now. He’s a solid scorer who can easily drive to the basket, and the attention opposing defense are forced to give to Durant only makes his life easier. Calathes did a fine enough job in his first start against the Bucks on Saturday, and he appears to be slowly figuring out the speed of the NBA. Still, he will have a very difficult night guarding the elusive Jackson.
Advantage: Oklahoma City

Courtney Lee

Courtney Lee vs Thabo Sefolosha
Until Tony Allen returns to the starting lineup, I’m just going to keep using this space to talk about what an excellent pickup Lee has been for the Grizzlies. Because seriously, can you believe what a good pickup Lee has been for the Grizzlies??!! As for Thabo, he’s your traditional 3-and-D guy; we know what to expect from, as he’s been doing it for about a half-decade now. It’s easy to not think about Sefolosha, but you never know when he’ll get hot from beyond the arc right away, and wind up with 12 points before the first commercial break. Not the most exciting player in the world, but you know the Thunder would never even think of trading him.
Advantage: Push

Tayshaun Prince vs Kevin Durant
It seems all too logical that Kevin Durant’s streak of 30 point games ended not because he had an off night, but because his team was up by so many points that it would have seemed unsportsmanlike for him to play in the fourth quarter. No one can stop this guy right now. When watching Durant light up the scoreboard night after night while Westbrook sits on the sidelines, it’s hard not to think about the way the Grizzlies swarmed him last May, essentially forcing him to do everything. He played well in that series, but he wasn’t quite able to carry the team on his back. Based on his recent performances, you get the feeling he might be able to now. Tonight will be a good litmus test for that.
Huge, Huge, Unbelievably Freaking Huge Advantage: Oklahoma City

Zach Randolph

Zach Randolph vs Serge Ibaka
Ibaka also had a phenomenal night in Friday’s game against the Nets, shooting 12-12 from the field for 25 points. It’s been enjoyable to watch him slowly add more and more wrinkles to his game (not when he’s playing the Grizzlies, obviously). First, he added a bit of touch to his post game, then he developed his jumper, then he started hitting threes, all the while remaining one of the scariest defensive players in the league. Ibaka was passed up for the All-Star game due to the startling abundance of quality power forwards in the West (Z-Bo suffered the same fate), but his abilities are undeniable. Look for some body-banging between two capable, physical power forwards tonight.
Advantage: Push

Marc Gasol vs Kendrick Perkins
HEY LOOK A CATEGORY THE GRIZZLIES CAN WIN! It sure is great to have Marc, but the upcoming Conley-less stretch will be an interesting – if possibly depressing – experiment. With all due respect to Z-Bo, it’s become clear over the past few years that Conley and Gasol are the players most integral to the Grizzlies success. We saw the Grizz tread water without Marc, and Conley played a huge role in keeping the team in playoff contention. Now, with Conley out, the roles have reversed, and it’ll be up to Marc to anchor the team while he recuperates. Will the team be better or worse with Conley out than they were with Marc out? It might not be pretty, but it will be interesting. Oh, and Perk actually had a couple of nice moves in the Nets game. I was stunned.
Advantage: Memphis. Every night.

Off the Bench:

Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard. Jamaal Franklin is our backup point guard.

(Hold me.)

(Also, Hasheem Thabeet is still on the Thunder.)

 

Advantage: Oklahoma City

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