Oklahoma City Thunder vs Memphis Grizzlies 2011-2012 Game 22 Preview: Another Battle Coming Up

GameThread at 7, be there!

Records: Memphis Grizzlies (12-10) at Oklahoma City Thunder (17-4)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time

Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena Seasoned by Zatarain's, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Cox Sports Television

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), KMEZ 106.7 FM

Enemy Blog(s): Straight Outta Vancouver, 3 Shades of Blue

Previous Meeting(s): Dec. 28, Jan. 10 (Thunder lead series 2-0)

***

The Thunder welcome their favorite sparring partners the Memphis Grizzlies into the Chesapeake Arena tonight. The Thunder are coming off of a necessary win against a shorthanded Mavericks team on Wednesday, while the Grizzlies are starting to roll again, after having defeated both the Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks this week. Despite having lost both Zach Randolph and Darrell Arthur, the Grizzlies continue to find a way to stay competitive, and there is no doubt they will remain so tonight. They have had a very strange run though - they lost three games, won seven, lost four, and then won two. How do we know which Grizzlies team will show up tonight?

I checked in with Tom Lorenzo of Straight Outta Vancouver, and here is what he had to say:

I think the key to look at here is the schedule. Aside from the most recent 2-game winning streak (Atlanta and Denver), we haven't really beaten any teams that we "weren't supposed to beat." Looking at our 7-game win streak, we beat the Kings, Warriors, Pistons, Hornets (twice), Knicks and the Derrick Rose-less Bulls. If you're a serious playoff team, those are the games you're "supposed to win." We then went on the road and lost four straight games to the Blazers, Clippers, Suns and Spurs -- three possible playoff teams in there. We have losses to the Thunder (twice), Lakers, Bulls (with Rose), Jazz... see a pattern here? I wish I could tell you that we can turn it on and elevate our game -- and I'm not trying to take anything away from the most recent wins -- but we tend to struggle against the true title contenders. We have the horses to compete, but often times we miss that finisher. It sounds like I'm being a bit of a downer here, but all I've ever said, since Zach Randolph went down, was just get us to the playoffs with a healthy team, including Randolph. I don't expect this team, as currently constructed, to be able to run with the Thunder and Lakers on a nightly basis. We're a good team, sometimes a very good team, but we need a complete roster to compete. We're good enough to beat the Kings and Pistons of the world without Z-Bo, but we'll struggle against you guys -- though we won't go down without a fight!

Regardless of who suits up for the Grizzlies, they will always play stout defense and so always will be competitive. If we look back at game two, which also lacked Randolph and Arthur, you can see that every quarter was closely played. Memphis has a way of finding guys to step up to take on the additional scoring load, whether it be Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, or O.J. Mayo. However, the one area where Memphis cannot simply plug in pieces, is in their rebounding. In the second game, OKC had a major advantage on the boards, winning 51-39 overall and 14-10 on the offensive glass. They will need to repeat this performance if they want to come out with a 3rd victory.

Offensively, OKC's main advantage is at the guard position with Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Westbrook had a huge game last time out, scoring a game high 30 points. He clearly understands that he has an advantage over both Mike Conley and Mayo and will continue to force the action. OKC's challenge will be to give Westbrook some better support this time out. Kevin Durant struggled against the Grizz as he sometimes does, since Memphis has in Tony Allen one of the premier perimeter defenders in the game. Durant will need to be more aggressive in looking for shots close to the rim, both compared to last Grizzlies game as well as Wednesday night. If KD can generate more efficient offense this time out, the Thunder should have enough to hold off the Grizzlies.

Prediction: Thunder 100, Grizzlies 92

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Welcome to Loud City

You must be a member of Welcome to Loud City to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Welcome to Loud City. You should read them.

Join Welcome to Loud City

You must be a member of Welcome to Loud City to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Welcome to Loud City. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker