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Thunder vs Grizzlies Preview: A Must Win in Order to Maintain the Three Seed

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The Thunder are spiraling, but the Grizz are no easy out.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Game: Oklahoma City Thunder vs Memphis Grizzlies

Time: 6 P.M. CST

Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena

Broadcast: NBA TV, FSOK

Counterpart: Grizzly Bear Blues

***

Paul George did not play again versus the Spurs on Saturday, so him returning on the second of a back to back versus Memphis on Sunday is unlikely.

Memphis will be the first team who isn’t in playoff contention that Oklahoma City has played since before the all-star break. But Memphis cannot be taken lightly, as we’ve seen earlier this week when they upset the Lakers. In addition, the Thunder have struggle recently, only having one win in their last five games.

What to watch out for:

  • Russell Westbrook vs Mike Conley

With George out again, majority of the onus will be on Westbrook’s shoulders to pushed the Thunder to victory. Westbrook had a triple-double versus the Sixers on Thursday, but was unable to close out the game for Oklahoma City.

Like almost every team in the West, Memphis is led by a strong point guard in Mike Conley. In order to defeat the Grizzlies, the Thunder should hope to duplicate their defense performance against Conley the last time these teams matched up.

In their game on February 7th, Conley shot 4-15 from the floor and only scored 15 points. Conley also finished the game with a plus/minus of -23.

  • Oklahoma City’s Bench Production

George is a candidate for the MVP, so it’s difficult to replace what he does on the floor. Nonetheless, the next man up mentality must be applied, and the bench must show up.

Versus the Sixers, the Thunder’s bench didn’t seem to adjust properly to the new rotation without George in the lineup. Off the bench, only three players scored, and they only scored 23 points.

A breakout performance from the bench would be a great confidence booster heading into next week in case George’s shoulder injury lingers. Nerlens Noel, Markieff Morris and Patrick Patterson will need to step up against Memphis’ front court.

Since the Western Conference standings are so tight, games like this are must win for the Thunder. OKC cannot afford to slip any more in the standings, with only 20 games remaining. But the Grizz are no easy out.

Poll

Who do you think will win tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Thunder
    (74 votes)
  • 33%
    Grizzlies
    (37 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now