2012-2013 Game 46 Preview: Thunder Try to Salvage Memphis Series, West Lead

KD, unlike Space Ghost, is always getting enough oxygen. - William Bennett Berry

The Grizzlies can certainly hold their own without Gay. But now that the Grizzlies are the NBA's fourth-worst scoring team and no longer have O.J. Mayo, his 17 PPG seem that much more important.

2012-2013 NBA Season
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The Memphis Grizzlies (29-15)
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The Oklahoma City Thunder (34-11)
January 31st, 2013
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
7:00 PM CST
Turner Network Television, National Basketball Association Television
WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), ESPN 92.9 FM/680 AM
Enemy Blogs: Straight Outta Vancouver, Three Shades of Blue
Previous Meetings: Nov 14th (Grizzlies Lead Season Series 1-0)
Injury Report: Mike Conley (Questionable), Quincy Pondexter (Out)
Probable Starters
Mike Conley (Jerryd Bayless?) PG Russell Westbrook
Tony Allen SG Thabo Sefolosha
Chris Johnson (Tayshaun Prince?) SF Kevin Durant
Zach Randolph PF Serge Ibaka
Marc Gasol C Kendrick Perkins

If you've been under a proverbial rock for the past few days, then you've likely missed the Rudy Gay trade. The Grizzlies' new owners, in a bid to make the team more profitable, have shipped off Rudy Gay for an expiring Tayshaun Prince and a possibly decent backup in Austin Daye. The impact of this trade over time is debatable, but the immediate impact is undoubtedly negative.

Don't get me wrong, the Grizzlies can certainly hold their own without Gay. Two seasons ago they managed to grab the 8 seed, upset the Spurs in the first round, and take the Thunder to 7 games with essentially the same roster sans Gay. But now that the Grizzlies are the NBA's fourth-worst scoring team and no longer have O.J. Mayo, the 17 PPG of Rudy Gay seem that much more important. Prince can certainly provide more efficient scoring, but considering that he was only averaging 12 PPG with the nearly talentless Pistons, it's doubtful that he can fill the void. Austin Daye and Ed Davis are decent throw-ins, but I don't see why they'd get time over Darrell Arthur or Marreese Speights. For more on the Gay trade, be sure to check out J.A. Sherman's Q&A with Straight Outta Vancouver.

Prince, Davis, and Daye's availability for tonight's game is currently unknown, but even if they were to be included, they wouldn't be totally up to date on what the Grizzlies were doing offensively and defensively. As such, I'd expect them to be used sparingly if at all, and not really be a factor in tonight's game.

Considering that the Thunder's last loss was to a Grizzlies team that relied on perimeter shooting and some unusually high performances from the Grizz bench, I don't think tonight's game should be too much trouble. The Thunder's interior D has shown some signs of faltering, but as long as they can keep Randolph and Gasol from having career nights, they should be able to muster up a win. Also, Kevin Martin can't totally mentally check out of the game and shoot merely 4 shots. But hay, maybe if Chris Johnson continues to be a surprise success as a mid-season pick up, maybe the Grizz will be able to repeat the tons of open shots they were able to shoot back in November.

Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 98, Memphis Grizzlies 90.

If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.

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