Game: Memphis at Oklahoma City
When: 7:00 PM CST
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Records: Memphis Grizzlies (12-10), Oklahoma City (18-4)
Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Oklahoma City – Russell Westbrook, Daequan Cook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins
Memphis shocked another top squad , this time defeating the Atlanta Hawks 96-77, The Grizz have righted their ship after a four game losing streak by defeating Denver (2nd best record in the West) and Atlanta (tied for the best record in the East) in back to back game. The Grizzlies have a quick turn around as they now face the best team in the league in Oklahoma City who have already defeated them twice at FedEx Forum this season.
Tony Allen played his college ball at Oklahoma State and hopes to use that hometown feeling to continue his high level of play. Allen lead the Grizz with 15 first half points as Memphis charged away from a tight game to rout the Hawks last night. O J Mayo continued his torrid scoring off the bench with 18 points and Rudy Gay topped the Grizzlies with 21 points including a couple of thunderous dunks. Mayo got some help off the bench for a change as Dante Cunningham chipped in 8 points and 12 rebounds replacing Marreese Speights in the starting lineup in the second half.
Oklahoma City held Dallas to 28% shooting and 34 points in the 2nd half in their pull away win Wednesday night. Defense is becoming the Thunder’s calling card despite having NBA Scoring leader Kevin Durant on their team. The Thunder are holding teams to 42% shooting on the season and are a perfect 5-0 when holding teams to below 40% from the field and are 7-1 when holding opponents under 90 points.
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant lead the Thunder but it may be the big men down low that make the biggest difference this season. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins provide a twin tower front line that few teams can match. Thrown in solid veteran Nick Collison off the bench and the Thunder’s big men often dominate the paint on defense. Their power down low makes OKC a great rebounding team and the Thunder are tough to beat when they dominate the boards.
Prediction: Back to back games and 3 in 4 days against elite opponents may be too much for the gritty Grizzlies to overcome.