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Grizzlies vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer

Grizzlies vs. Thunder: Pregame Primer



Grizzlies (2-1, 0-0 road) vs. Thunder (1-2, 0-0 home)

TV: None (Live-streamed through okcthunder.com and the OKC Thunder app if you live in Oklahoma)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 1300 AM The Buzz Tulsa)
Time: 7:00 PM CST

Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats for the preseason)

  • Offensive Rating: Thunder – 106.9 (2nd), Grizzlies – 101.3 (10th)
    Defensive Rating: Thunder – 111.3 (30th), Grizzlies – 94.6 (8th)

In what is technically a home game for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team looks for some modicum of consistency in the final three preseason games, all home game (as long as you call Tulsa home for one game). The first three games of the preseason for the Thunder has been a near complete imbalance between the offensive end of the floor and the defensive end of the floor. Injuries likely play a part in that as Steven Adams has missed most of the preseason with ankle issues (and will likely miss tonight’s game) and Andre Roberson missed the last game with knee soreness. In addition, this imbalance may just be a product of the players the Thunder have on their roster, especially those coming off the bench.

Injuries and minutes restrictions have played a part in players who likely won’t sniff starters minutes playing upwards of 25 minutes per game. Enes Kanter should never be on the floor more than 20 minutes per game unless the match-up dictates it. Joffrey Lauvergne and Ersan Ilyasova should never be getting more than 16 minutes per game due to their defensive deficiencies. And the small forward tandem of Kyle Singler and Josh Huestis should not be seeing an average of 23 minutes each per game. But, alas, it is the preseason, and bodies have to be on the floor to continue the game.

Speaking of Kyle Singler…how about that 3rd quarter, huh? True, it was against D-League talent, but still. Sometimes a player just needs to see the ball go in the bucket. Maybe this will start a float tank revolution. Maybe Singler will catch lightning in a bottle. Or, maybe, he’ll go 1-7 in this game for 5 points. You never know when it comes to the Kyle Singler.

The Opponent

The Memphis Grizzlies come into this game sporting a 2-1 record, having played all their current preseason games in the FedEx Forum in Memphis. Tonight will be the first of three road games in a row to end the preseason for Memphis. The Grizzlies are a lot like the Thunder in that they are a team in flux, with much of their core still remaining. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are coming off of injuries that derailed them last season, while Zach Randolph and Tony Allen are a year older. Players like JaMychal Green and James Ennis will be looked upon to bring energy to the Grizzlies. Free agent signee Chandler Parsons has yet to play a preseason game and is said to still be rehabbing from offseason knee surgery.

Out for the Thunder

Enes Kanter (knee soreness), Steven Adams (ankle), Andre Roberson (knee soreness), Mitch McGary (foot), Ronnie Price (concussion)

3 Big Things1. Consistency on the Defensive End

Fortunately for the Thunder, the Grizzlies are not a pick-and-roll heavy team. New Memphis head coach David Fizdale is trying to transition the team to more of a space and pace outfit, but the personnel on this team still isn’t fully there for this style of play. With the Thunder top two post players out (Steven Adams and Enes Kanter), look for the Thunder to go small with Joffrey Lauvergne likely getting the starting nod at the 5.

2. Singler vs. Huestis

This is turning into a thing this preseason. Huestis appeared to have a good grip on the back-up SF position 2 games into the preseason, but Singler’s outburst in the Dallas game is what the Thunder have been looking for from him for a season and a half. With Roberson out, it may be interesting to see if Huestis gets the starting nod tonight.

3. Pace

With the Thunder’s behemoths both being out, look for the Thunder to go small and push the pace. Expect to see a couple Lauvergne dunks off of Russell Westbrook pick and rolls.