|2012-2013 NBA Season|
The Memphis Grizzlies (45-21)
|March 20th, 2013|
|The FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee|
|7:00 PM CDT|
|Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, SportSouth|
|WWLS the Sports Animal (98.1), ESPN 92.9 FM/680 AM|
|Three Shades of Blue|
|Previous Meetings: Nov 14th, Jan 31st (Season Series Tied at 1-1)|
|Injury Report: Mike Conley (Probable), Darrell Arthur (Questionable), Hasheem Thabeet (Unknown)|
|Russell Westbrook||PG||Mike Conley|
|Thabo Sefolosha||SG||Tony Allen|
|Kevin Durant||SF||Tayshaun Prince|
|Serge Ibaka||PF||Zach Randolph|
|Kendrick Perkins||C||Marc Gasol|
With the Grizzlies having traded away Rudy Gay, it's hard to tell whether they're the team they used to be, or merely a team to be forgotten in the first round. However, it's pretty clear that the Thunder need to win here if they want to keep the second seed in the West.
The key against this Grizzlies team is defense. They were already a slow-paced team when Rudy Gay left, so losing their leading scorer and replacing him with a primarily defensive role player was a huge gamble. Thus, the games this team generally loses are ones where they just can't get their offense off of the ground.
Last time the Thunder saw the new-look Grizzlies, before Tayshaun Prince joined the team, they were able to close them out rather easily in the fourth quarter. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were looked to as primary offensive producers, but they were both unable to hit their stride. Both of them have killed the Thunder in the past though, with Randolph's size in the paint and Gasol's jumpers, so I wouldn't chalk up a win just yet.
The bigger threat, in my opinion, is the offense of Jerryd Bayless. He's been excellent in his two games against the Thunder, particularly when he was allowed to work off-ball next to Mike Conley. When you've got a guy who's quick, can shoot, and can work off the ball, it's the perfect recipe for a Thunder killer. (J.J. Barea).
Anyway, seeing them with Tayshaun Prince on the road definitely makes them more fearsome, but barring a total collapse, I just don't see the Grizz as able to keep up with the Thunder offense. That, and I'm wishfully thinking because I'm still burned from the Nuggets loss last night. Blargh!
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 94, Memphis Grizzlies 90.