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GAME: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City
Time: 7:00 pm CDT
PLACE: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Records: Memphis (28-22), Oklahoma City (40-12)

Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Oklahoma City – Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins

Preview:
On Saturday night, Memphis held on to beat the Bucks in Milwaukee, but not before some unnecessary hand-wringing drama. I hope that Lionel Hollins, shall we say, “strenuously” reiterated some of the fundamentals of basketball to the team after their boneheaded mistakes in the fourth quarter. It’s difficult to be too upset about the Grizzlies winning a game without Mike Conley or Dante Cunningham, both out with ankle issues, but this was a contest where they played virtually even with the Bucks in nearly every statistical category, except one: rebounding. They outrebounded Milwaukee 58-39 (18 to 9 in offensive rebounds), which was the turning point. The starting frontcourt combined for 35 boards with all three of them posting double-doubles.

Oklahoma City has won 6 in a row since dropping a contest in Utah on March 20th. They haven’t lost at home since the Spurs beat them on March 16th. During their current win streak, they have handily dispensed with the Heat, Lakers, and Bulls. Yesterday, the went toe-to-toe with the best defensive team in the league and positively destroyed them. Anyone watching that game couldn’t help but come away with the notion that the Thunder are the most dangerous team in the league right now. The Grizzlies are 0-2 against them this season after taking them to 7 games in the playoffs last spring. This is the final regular season matchup between them.

For Memphis to win, they will need to do a number of things that they seem to have been struggling with lately. First, they need to get back to playing great team defense. Grit & Grind relies on this, as it is the impetus for their ability to create turnovers, rebound, and score on easy transition opportunities. Next, they need to stop taking so many perimeter shots. The Grizzlies are decidedly not a 3-point shooting team, so they need to quit acting like they are. It’s frustrating to watch them take 3′s early in the shot-clock, no matter how open they happen to be. And if O.J. Mayo takes one more three in transition, I’m gonna consider knee-capping him myself. Finally, they are going to have to go back to playing fundamental, half-court basketball on offense. Play inside-out, work the ball through the post, drive-and-kick, and take advantage of mismatches.

For the Thunder to win….they only need to keep doing what they’ve been doing for the past few weeks. They are hitting on all cylinders right now, and the duo of Westbrook and Durant are virtually unstoppable. When Harden is on too, this team simply cannot be beaten.

Prediction:  Grizzlies lose yet another close one to the team that should become their biggest rival over the next few seasons.

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4 Responses to Memphis at Oklahoma City – 4/2/12

  1. theGrizzFanNo Gravatar says:

    This is the only time this season that I’ve felt the Grizzlies are heading into a game that they can’t win. The team doesn’t have all of their wrinkles ironed out, and we have 3 guys who have recently sprained their ankles. We have to be at 100% (mentally and physically)to beat these guys and we aren’t. I wouldn’t mind seeing Arenas, Pargo, QPon, ZBo and double H start the game. Give the starters some much needed rest.We have ankles to heal!

  2. GrizzliesDieHardNo Gravatar says:

    If we want to win this game we should hold Conley out of this one and make sure Juice get 30+ minutes guarding Westbrook. If Conley plays Westbrook will destroy him. In order to beat the Thunder you must contain Westbrook. Juice is capable of getting 30 points tonight with increased minutes.. Arenas needs to see a bunch of action as well. We will need about 50 points off of the bench tonight.

  3. Anthony MorrisonNo Gravatar says:

    TheGrizzFan should be ashamed of thinking we had no chance tonight! Okay, I admit it, I didn’t either. That was an incredible effort. With the wins tonight and at the Lakers last week as evidence, it’s great that we are finally starting to shock the NBA’s glamor teams like we had been doing the previous couple of years. It had become harder as teams aren’t taking us lightly anymore. Go Grizz!

  4. theGrizzFanNo Gravatar says:

    Yeh, it’s great to be wrong and still have that nice, warm feeling inside. Thank you Grizzlies.

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