Tip-Off: 7 PM CST
Location: FedEx Forum (Memphis, TN)
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
PG Mike Conley is having a decent season so far despite missing nine games at one point due to injury. Over the summer, the Grizzlies signed Conley to a 5-year, $153 million dollar contract, the largest in NBA history, a move that has had many critics scratching their heads. So far in 23 games, Conley is averaging a career-high 18.1 points on 42.9% shooting from the field and a career-high 41.9% from three. He also averages 5.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game. Russell Westbrook is a far superior point guard, but Conley has good chemistry with his teammates, so shutting him down will be a key to victory in Memphis.
Keys to the Game
- Get Out in Transition: Memphis is one of the better defensive teams in the NBA holding opponents to 98.1 points per game. Part of the reason the Grizzlies are so good on defense is because they like to control the tempo of the game and slow things down. Memphis opponents are averaging only 13.2 fast break points a game, an area where Oklahoma City excels. The Thunder need to run the break every chance possible and force the Grizzlies to adjust the way they typically play.
- Pound the Paint: Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have been one of the top duos in the paint for years now, and despite the fact that they are both playing in the latter half of their NBA careers, they are still effective down low. The Grizzlies average a mere 39 points in the paint per game, which is 26th in the NBA, but they hold opponents to an impressive 36.2 points in the paint per game, which is 1st in the league. Oklahoma City is 1st in the league in scoring points in the paint with 50.7 per game, so this will be an interesting aspect to watch.
- Second Unit Scoring: Oklahoma City’s bench has exploded during the Thunder’s current 4-game winning streak by averaging 46.3 points per game, and there is no doubt that the Thunder’s success is a direct result of the bench’s solid play. Enes Kanter, Alex Abrines, and Jerami Grant have been the most consistent contributors, and they will all three look to continue their success in Memphis against the Grizzlies.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.