It's been a rough season for the Memphis Grizzlies. The injury bug hasn't bitten the team, at least in terms of the core rotation. But Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, and Jeff Green are all shooting between 34 and 36% from the field. Those three players constitute the bulk of Memphis' perimeter offense. Accordingly, the Grizzlies are shooting 29.1% from three as a team, good for third worst in the league. The Grizzlies' overall field goal percentage is just as bad, as Memphis is shooting 41.4%. That's also good for third worst in the league.
Admittedly, the Grizzlies haven't had an easy opening schedule. They've had to face the Warriors twice, and Golden State appears to be completely impervious to Grit and Grind. Memphis also had to face the Blazers twice, the Clippers, and the Cavaliers. So a 4-6 record through all of that noise is understandable.
Coming into tonight, the Grizzlies will be flying in from Minneapolis, fresh off a win against the Timberwolves. It was one of Mike Conley's first good games of the season, as he scored 20 points on 50% shooting with 7 assists. Jeff Green was right behind Conley, getting it going with the bench lineup and scoring 21. Overall, the game was indicative of Memphis becoming more reliant upon outside shooting.
The Grizzles had to have been impressed with Mario Chalmers's performance against the Wolves. Chalmers was playing his second game since being traded from Miami, and scored an efficient 16 points off the bench. In Chalmers' first game, he had 10 points and four steals. Needless to say, D.J. Augustin will have his hands full trying to guard Chalmers. But if you look at the head-to-head between Chalmers and Augustin for their entire careers, you see that they pretty much cancel each other out.
The Thunder will be traveling to Memphis off of a back-to-back, as well. The distance is a bit shorter, as Oklahoma City just had a game at home against the Celtics. But the circumstances are much more dark, as the Thunder were completely pummeled by a middle-of-the-road Eastern Conference team. The most notable headline of the game was how badly OKC's offense folded down the stretch. Waiters was a complete disaster, Collison wasted key possessions, and Westbrook took too many threes. The defensive end was equally hard to watch, as Enes Kanter and D.J. Augustin got abused around screens and in the paint. All the while, coach Billy Donovan took way too long to sub his starters in, and the game quickly got away.
It remains to be seen whether the Thunder's offense is sustainable without Durant. In the only other game without KD this season, the Thunder cruised over a winless Philadelphia team. Two things are for sure. One: The Thunder must cut down on turnovers. Two: Westbrook and Waiters can't both shoot below 30% on the game. More ball movement and less pull up jumpers should solve both problems.
Personally, I'm hoping that Coach Donovan will tweak his lineups a bit more. Despite the fact that Andre Roberson is starting to make a "defensive statement", Morrow is now starting next to him as a large defensive weakness. The other reason given for Morrow's minutes as a starter is to keep the bench's consistency. What consistency? Our bench has seen players slide in and out of the rotation. And the bench hasn't been consistently effective, either. Honestly, I'd like to see Waiters or Singler start just so the Thunder can have a bit more size. Augustin can move the ball effectively enough on his own for a couple of minutes on the bench.
Anyway, it's going to be a treat to see Adams and Ibaka go up against Gasol and Randolph in the post. The two might not have as big of offensive roles as they once did, but they're still the heart of their team's offense. If OKC's bigs can force a few misses, than the Thunder definitely still have more firepower on the perimeter. That doesn't mean it won't be ugly, though.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 91, Memphis Grizzlies 88.
What do you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!
|2015-16 NBA Season Game 10|
|November 16th, 2015|
|The Federal Express Forum, Memphis, Tennessee|
|7 PM Central Daylight Time|
|TV: Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Fox Sports South|
|Injury Report: James Ennis, Jordan Adams (Questionable), Kevin Durant, Brendan Wright, Jarrell Martin (Out)|
|Last Season's Matchups: Nov 7 (L 91-89), Jan 31 (L 74-85), Feb 11 (W 105-89). Pre-Season: Oct 16 (L 78-94)|
|Russell Westbrook||PG||Mike Conley|
|Anthony Morrow||SG||Courtney Lee|
|Andre Roberson||SF||Tony Allen|
|Serge Ibaka||PF||Zach Randolph|
|Steven Adams||C||Marc Gasol|