The Oklahoma City Thunder will host their second straight afternoon matinee game on Sunday as they host the Memphis Grizzlies. The game is slated to tip-off at 1 p.m. CT and will be shown on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
The big question will be the status of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA may not have been named an all-star this year, but he played like one yet again in OKC’s win on Thursday over the Mavs, putting up 32 points and 8 assists and carrying OKC to a 116-108 victory.
He sat out Saturday’s game with a quad contusion and OKC’s offense cratered, failing to crack 100 points in the loss to the Knicks.
That’s been the story all season; with SGA on the court, OKC’s offensive rating is a solid but unspectacular 109.5; with him on the bench that rating craters to 99.9. It’s not exactly breaking news that losing your best player hurts your offense, but when SGA doesn’t play the team loses their best scorer and their best point guard.
The team doesn’t even have another good option at the Point: Theo Maledon has shown flashes this season but remains inconsistent and spends a fair amount of time off-ball, George Hill is injured, and Hamidou Diallo, who was the de-facto second unit point guard for much of the season’s first half, has been traded to Detroit.
It’s a credit to Mark Daigneault that the Thunder moves the ball well without Shai, but often their Shai-less offensive ball movement doesn’t create any real openings in the defense, and the team is left to hoist a contested three or have someone take a tough drive into the paint.
OKC’s players play hard and do the right things, but they're just isn’t enough oomph to create consistent offense without SGA.
The Grizzlies, by the way, rank top ten in the NBA in defensive rating. Even if Shai returns to the lineup, this could be another rough offensive outing for OKC.
If SGA is ready to go, the Thunder should have a fighting chance, if their defense (also a top ten unit by defensive rating) can keep Ja Morant and company in check. Easier said than done.
*All stats per Cleaning the Glass.