Grizzlies (30-21, 14-12 road) vs. Thunder (28-22, 16-7 home)
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1 FM, 640 AM, 930 AM (Spanish))
Time: 7:00 PM CST
Team Comparisons (per NBA.com/Stats)
- Offensive Rating: Thunder – 103.9 (21st), Grizzlies – 104.0 (20th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.7 (9th), Grizzlies – 102.7 (4th)
One of the worst things to have in the middle of a season is an adjustment period. Professional basketball players are creatures of habit. Consistent practice schedule, consistent rotation, consistent rest schedule, consistent expectations. But when that consistency is thrown for a loop because of something (injury, trade, etc.), it can take a while for a team to adjust to their adjust to the new landscape.
The Oklahoma City Thunder had a great thing going with Enes Kanter leading the second team. It took the team about a month and a half to get to that point, but once they did, the team’s offensive output took off from there. Now, with Kanter’s injury, the team has to once against re-adjust to a new normal with the second team. Before Kanter’s injury, the second unit was starting to become a net-positive, taking leads and extending them or cutting into deficits. Now, the reserves are falling into the same habit that befell them in the first month of the season: losing leads or watching small deficits explode into insurmountable deficits in a couple minutes time.
I, honestly, don’t know what the answer is. The back-up point guard situation is a mess. Victor Oladipo isn’t yet dependable as a go-to scorer. And Alex Abrines being out with back issues has really killed any floor spacing and shooting the second unit may have needed with Kanter out. Will the Thunder figure it out? I don’t know. But this may force them to look at their options in the trade market and get some help sooner rather than later.
Season Series Summary
This is the third of four meetings between the Thunder and Grizzlies this season. The teams have split their first two meetings of the season, with each team winning on its home floor.
The Grizzlies come into this game with a 30-21 record, having won three in a row. For the first time this season, they are seemingly healthy and starting to put it all together. Their veteran core is still performing well, and some of their young players, like Troy Daniels, JaMychal Green, and James Ennis are starting to become indoctrinated in Grit and Grind basketball. The biggest disappointment for this team has been the fact that their last two big free agent signings (Brandan Wright and Chandler Parsons) have been held back by knee injuries.
- Enes Kanter (forearm)
- Alex Abrines (back) – Questionable
3 Big Things
1. Just make a shot
You can point to Kanter’s injury all you want, but the Thunder (all of them) just aren’t making shots. That’s not a starter vs. reserves situation. That’s an everyone on the team thing. Over their past 3 games (all losses), the Thunder have failed to shoot over 40% overall from the field and have failed to shoot 30% from deep. That becomes very problematic in basketball if you are shooting that poorly.
For all the talk about Kanter’s lack of defense, the Thunder’s lack of defense over the past 3 games have been quite pathetic. You would figure with their “defensive sieve” out of the line-up, the Thunder would improve in that department. Well, that hasn’t quite been the case. Andre Roberson has been getting roasted out there by the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, and LeBron James. And opposing point guards have been in the paint so much against the Thunder, it’s a wonder how they don’t get called for 3-second violations.
3. Nick Collison
Dust that man off and put him out there. About the only superstar-less match-up I love to watch is Nick Collison vs. Zach Randolph. Those two have so much respect for each other and for the game, it makes it a joy to watch them compete against each other when they are out there.