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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies: 2010-2011 Game 61 Preview; Those Pesky Grizzlies

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This also counts as an open thread, so feel free to post your thoughts during the game here.

Records: The Oklahoma City Thunder (39-22) vs. The Memphis Grizzlies (35-29)

Time: 7:00 PM Central Daylight Time

Place: The Fedex Firecracker, Memphis, Tennessee

TV: Fox Sports Net Oklahoma, SportSouth Memphis

Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), Soul Classics 103.5 FM WRBO

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

Previous Meeting(s): Jan. 4, Jan. 9, Feb. 8 (Grizzlies Lead Season Series 2-1)

Are you awake? Good.

Because the Grizzlies are back, and they're better than ever. Since we last checked in with them, the Grizzlies have transformed themselves from a lower middle class team into a tough Western conference rival that can actually play with the best of them. Look no further than their wins against Dallas and San Antonio in the last week, because they are really that good. And, get this. Fans are showing up to their games! Actual people! Not just CGI! During their last home game, over 15,000 people showed up! No joke!

All joking aside, this is a good team. OJ Mayo was recently reinstated from his suspension, and he's made a huge difference for their bench play, scoring 10.85 points a game since coming back. They also traded for Shane Battier at the deadline, further adding to their scoring and defensive power on the bench. More minor acquisitions include Ishmael Smith, a decent young Point Guard, Jason Williams, a over the hill point guard who can still handle the ball with the best, and Leon Powe, a average PF out of Cal that seems to bounce from team to team.

While the above transactions won't wow you in any sense of the word, they have made the Grizzlies a legitimate team. What was once a team with a bunch of good starters that collapsed halfway through games is now a team that can rely on its main bench players to make an impact, while having some longshots deep in the bench to fall back on. But, above all, the Grizzlies now have a 9 man rotation, and it has lead them to great recent success.

In tonight's game, the Grizzlies will attempt to establish a defensive presence while killing the other team in the paint. The Thunder have become more of a defensive team since their last encounter with the Grizzlies, but their offense has shifted moreso onto the perimeter with the emergence of Daequan Cook and James Harden, so it should be interesting to see how the two styles collide. My prediction is that while the Thunder have done well recently, Tony Allen always kills us offensively and is good at locking down our best scorers defensively. Thu,sh e will be the factor that pushes the Grizzlies over the top in a relatively low-scoring game.

Prediction: Memphis 98, Oklahoma City 95