So I have this habit of being really obnoxious in the WTLC email chat about my Memphis Grizzlies fandom whenever these teams play, and nobody else has said anything about it yet, but I'm sure all of the other writers hate my Grizzly-loving guts. To that, I say: reasonable take NOPE DON'T CARE
The Oklahoma City Thunder are coming in after a narrow 98-95 win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Their play has been a touch uneven of late, and I've found myself dissatisfied with Billy Donovan for many of the same tactical reasons as Scott Brooks in the past, especially in fourth quarters. This is doubly frustrating, because the whole point of replacing Brooks with Donovan was to bring in someone who isn't ostensibly the same.
But Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have been awesome this season, and things are happy with the Thunder controlling the third seed in the Western Conference after the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. Mostly, my internal conflict during Thunder games is whether I like Russ more than Durant now.
As for the Grizzlies, they're sixth in the West and have been quietly steady since turning around a bad start to their season. They won their last game over the Phoenix Suns when our old friend / the bane of my existence Jeff Green completed a game-winning alley-oop dunk off the inbound with 0.8 seconds remaining, which I'll admit was [very cranky voice] okay and kinda cool.
The Grizzlies have been getting consistent play out of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley lately, which has been key to their relative success this season. The same can't be said for long time Durant pest Tony Allen, who logged just eight minutes against the Suns, and it seems likely that Green, Matt Barnes and Courtney Lee will spend a lot of time defending him as well as Westbrook. Those are three solid defenders, but nowhere near as good as Allen at his Durant-bothering best.
Last time these two teams played, Mario Chalmers had the greatest game of his life (?) and the Grizzlies scored 122 points (??). That probably won't happen again, but I'm totally here for it if it does.
Because I'm a giant nerd, how both teams execute their style of basketball throughout the game is what I'm going to be watching for. The Thunder have this weird tendency to allow their opponents to impose upon them (look at how dumb and crazy the Kings game was), and the Grizzlies would love to turn this game into a slugfest.
Prediction: Grizzlies 97, Thunder 94 (EAT ME)
|2015-16 NBA Season Game 21|
|December 8th, 2015|
|FedExForum, Memphis, TN|
|7:00 PM CST|
|TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports South, NBA League Pass|
|Injury Report: Brandan Wright (Out), Jordan Adams (Out), Jarell Martin (Out)|
|This Season's Matchups: Nov 16 (L, 122-114)|
|Mike Conley||PG||Russell Westbrook|
|Tony Allen||SG||Andre Roberson|
|Jeff Green||SF||Kevin Durant|
|Zach Randolph||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|Marc Gasol||C||Steven Adams|