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Thunder vs. Grizzlies Preview: Can OKC Overcome the Grind?

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A contrast of styles might be decided by OKC's weak(er) interior against the Grizzlies bigs.

Just when you thought you understood the powers of Russell Westbrook....
Just when you thought you understood the powers of Russell Westbrook....
William Bennett Berry

Where They At: Thunder

OKC has mastered the art of playing fun, terrifying basketball in both wins and losses. They don't have the skill or gusto to produce more than the occasional blip of defensive might, never clearer than in their crazy loss to the Mavericks on Wednesday. That loss put the 7 seed virtually out of reach, and now they need victories across this tough stretch to keep New Orleans at bay. If they lose, they might be behind the Pelicans when they face the Rockets next.

Where They At: Grizzlies

The Grizz are struggling, dropping out of the 2-spot they appeared to have locked down earlier in the season. They have a lot to play for, because the difference between the 2 seed and the 3 seed could be playing the reigning champ Spurs or the floundering Mavericks.

The Matchup:

Showdowns with Memphis typically produce grueling, un-fun terror for the Thunder. It will be fascinating to see if OKC can hang 110+ on the sturdy Grizzlies defense, while also giving up a ton of points to a lackluster Memphis offense. If Steven Adams sits (sprained ankle), the Thunder would be in deep trouble regardless of the opponent. With Memphis OKC might not have much of a hope at all of stopping the punishing Gasol/Randolph duo. Just the thought of Mitch McGary getting worked over by Z-Bo is enough to make me call this for Memphis.

Prediction: Memphis 99 Oklahoma City 95

2014-15 NBA Season Game
(Lost 1)

(Won 1)
April 3rd, 2015
7 PM Central Daylight Time
TV: ESPN, Fox Sports Oklahoma
Injury Report: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Andre Roberson, Nick Collision (Out), Steven Adams, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen (Questionsable)
This Season's Matchups: Nov. 7 (L 91-89), Jan. 31 (L 85-74), Feb. 11 (W 105-89)
Probable Starters
Russell Westbrook PG Mike Conley
Dion Waiters SG Courtney Lee
Kyle Singler SF Jeff Green
Enes Kanter PF Zach Randolph
Steven Adams C Marc Gasol