Tip-Off: 7 PM CDT
Location: FedEx Forum (Memphis, TN)
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
C Marc Gasol resumed play yesterday after missing five consecutive games due to a strained left foot, and he played 30 minutes, so he should be good to play this evening. He only scored 11 points on 5/11 (45.5%) shooting, but he also managed 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Gasol has had varied success against the Thunder this season, but in the most recent meeting on February 3rd, he scored 31 points on 14/24 (58.3%) shooting to go along with 4 rebounds and 8 assists, but the Grizzlies still lost. Gasol is an incredible player who is extremely dynamic on both ends of the floor, so Steven Adams will have his work cut out for him.
Keys to the Game
- Contest Shots: Memphis is one of the worst shooting teams in the league, ranking dead last in field goal percentage at 43.4% and 19th in three-point percentage at 35.1%. Oklahoma City had one of its best defensive performances of the season last night at home against the Bucks, which was primarily due to the efforts of Andre Roberson. The Thunder needs to play aggressive against a team that is known for playing with a lot of grit and show the Grizzlies that there is no such thing as an easy shot.
- Run the Break: Oklahoma City flourishes in transition, and they have used their success in the fast break to defeat Memphis in their last two matchups. In those two games, the Thunder outscored the Grizzlies by a total of 39-14 in fast break points. Like always, Oklahoma City should use every opportunity to take defensive stops and convert those into transition points.
- Take Care of the Ball: The Thunder has struggled to take care of the ball for much of the season, but especially lately, as they have turned the ball over at least 16 times in 5 of the last 7 games, including a season-high 24 turnovers against Charlotte on Sunday. Memphis has caused problems for Oklahoma City all season in this area, as the Thunder have turned the ball over an average of 18 times in the 3 meetings. Russell Westbrook is riding an emotional high right now after tying Oscar Robertson’s single-season triple-double record, and he will have an opportunity to gain sole ownership of the record tonight, but he first needs to make sure that he leads his team to a victory, and that will be extremely difficult if the Thunder do not take care of the ball.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.