Tip-Off: 7 PM CST
Location: Chesapeake Energy Arena
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
F Zach Randolph was a force for the Grizzlies in their first matchup with the Thunder in Memphis as he put up 21 points on 10/17 shooting to go with 8 rebounds in 25 minutes. Randolph is averaging only 13.7 points and 7.8 rebounds in 23 minutes per game, but Oklahoma City has struggled to contain him in recent years. The Thunder big men have been playing exceptionally well lately, so they need to continue to dominate the paint and keep Randolph in check to give Oklahoma City the upper hand.
Keys to the Game
- Take Good Shots: When Oklahoma City played Memphis just two weeks ago, the Thunder had their worst shooting game of the season, making just 33.8% of their shots from the field. The Thunder also shot poorly from beyond the arc making only 4/22 (18.2%), which was their 2nd worst outing from three for the season. Fortunately, Oklahoma City shot a season-best 55.6% from the field against the Bulls in Chicago on Monday. Memphis is one of the top defensive teams in the league, so finding quality looks at the basket will be absolutely key to getting a victory tonight.
- Get the Ball Inside: Memphis ranks 1st in the NBA in opponent points in the paint with 36.7 per game, which should come as no surprise when they have Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph down low to bully opposing big men. However, the ‘Stache Brothers have been playing extremely well lately, and if Steven Adams and Enes Kanter can impose their will down low, the Thunder will be in a much better spot than they were two weeks ago.
- Control the Game: In the first game between these two teams in Memphis, Russell Westbrook picked up two technical fouls in a span of about fifteen seconds with 6:41 remaining in the third quarter. He was ejected from the game with the Thunder down by 15 points, and the game got even more out of hand from that point forward. The Grizzlies went on to lead by as many as 37 points in the fourth quarter, and they won the game by by 34. Westbrook struggled throughout his shortened playtime, but things completely fell apart as soon as he was ejected. Oklahoma City, specifically Russell Westbrook, cannot allow negative emotions to control the outcome of tonight’s game. When Westbrook stays in control and plays basketball the way he is capable of playing, the Thunder are a hard team to beat.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.