Time: 7:00 PM CT
TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
Radio: WWLS (98.1 FM OKC / 97.1 FM Tulsa)
On Monday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder (47-34) clinched a spot in the 2018 NBA Playoffs with an 18-point comeback win over the Heat. However, the drama is far from over. On what could easily be considered the NBA’s most exciting night of the regular season, the Thunder will face the Memphis Grizzlies (22-59) in a must-win matchup in regards to postseason seeding. If OKC beats the Grizzlies, the team will face the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. With a loss, the Thunder will have to face the Western Conference’s 1-seed Houston Rockets.
The moral of the story here is obvious: the Thunder must beat the Grizzlies.
Assuming the Thunder beats Memphis, whether or not the team enjoys homecourt advantage against the Jazz will be determined by the outcome of tonight’s Jazz/Blazers game. If Utah wins, the Thunder will finish as the 6-seed without homecourt advantage. If Utah loses, the Thunder will finish as the 4-seed with homecourt advantage. Getting the fourth or sixth seed also changes who the Thunder would face in the second round. A 4-seed pits them against the winner of the 1-v-8 matchup (likely the Rockets) and the 6-seed would line up OKC against the winner of 2-v-7 series –likely the Golden State Warriors.
The good news for the Thunder is that the Grizzlies are severely undermanned and rolling with a starting lineup that has only played together once this season. A host of injuries has left Memphis with almost no depth and barely enough active players to field a second unit. With optimal seeding on the line, the Thunder should have no problem staying motivated and rolling into the playoffs on a three-game winning streak.
Tip-off is at 7:00 PM CT and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The Thunder is currently a 15-point favorite according to OddsShark.
- Alex Abrines: Out – Concussion
- Andre Roberson: Out – Knee
- Mike Conley: Out – Heel
- JaMychal Green: Out – Knee
- Andrew Harrison: Out – Shoulder
- Jarell Martin: Out – Ankle
- Chandler Parsons: Out – Knee
- Wayne Selden Jr.: Out – Knee
- Marc Gasol: Out – Rest
- Tyreke Evans: NWT – Personal
Grizzlies: Dillon Brooks, Ivan Rabb, Ben McLemore, Kobi Simmons, Deyonta Davis
|Team||EFG||FTA||TOV%||OREB||OPP EFG||OPP FTA||OPP TO%||OPP OREB%|
Thunder O & D:
Grizzlies O & D:
Dec 9: OKC 102, MEM 101 (OT) [BOX SCORE]
Feb 11: OKC 110 MEM 92 [BOX SCORE]
Feb 14: OKC 121 MEM 114 [BOX SCORE]
Record-Breaking Russ. Adding to tonight’s drama, Russell Westbrook is only 16 rebounds away from averaging a triple-double for the second season in a row. Last season, Westbrook became just the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double over an entire season (Oscar Robertson, 1961-1962). No player has ever averaged a triple-double more than once, let alone in consecutive seasons. In the Thunder’s last matchup against the Grizzlies, Westbrook recorded 13 rebounds. If ever there was a point guard to grab 16 rebounds in one night, it would be the Triple Double King himself. Have a night, Russ.
Playoff PG. Thunder fans got a glimpse of playoff Paul George in Monday night’s win over the Miami Heat. After struggling with his shooting since the All-Star break, George showed a glimpse of his old ways by hitting five threes. That being said, his efficiency left much to be desired. He finished with 27 points on 7-of-19 shooting from the field and 5-of-13 from three. Hopefully, George can build on his shooting confidence with some open looks against a struggling Memphis defense.
Jerami Grant. OKC’s secret weapon, Jerami Grant, is peaking at just the right time. Lately, it seems like Grant is everywhere from blocking shots on one end of the court to serving up savage dunks on the other end. In his past five games, Grant is averaging 12.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks with an overall +/- rating of +4.8 (compared to his season averages of 8.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks). If Grant can keep it up, he would be a huge asset off the bench in a playoff series where depth can be all the difference between two teams.
Still Grinding. Despite only playing nine players against Minnesota on Monday, the Grizzlies are still living up to their Grit ‘n’ Grind motto. While their lineups are certainly haphazard at best, they should not be underestimated. Dillon Brooks scored a team-high 15 points versus Minnesota. Sixth-man, MarShon Brooks, scored 14 to end his streak of five games with 20+ points.
Thank You, Hair Jordan. Nick Collison said today that he’ll make his decision on whether he wants to retire after the postseason but tonight could be his final regular season game for the Thunder. Collison was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2003 and has played his entire NBA career for the Sonics/Thunder franchise. Collison has largely taken on a player-coach role this season. However, on Monday night, he played in his 1,000th career NBA game. If Collison chooses to retire after this season, his perfect in-game hair would be missed almost as much as Collison himself.
Around the League. The last day of the regular season will not disappoint NBA fans. As of today, the only teams that are locked-in to their seed are Houston (1), Golden State (2), Toronto (1), Boston (2), and Indiana (5). There are nine games tonight with playoff implications. For the diehard NBA fans like me, here are the most exciting games to follow tonight along with the Thunder game:
- Denver @ Minnesota (7 PM CT): Winner gets a playoff spot in the West, loser goes home.
- Utah @ Portland (9:30 PM CT, ESPN): Winner gets the 3-seed and determines whether OKC gets home court advantage.
- New York @ Cleveland/Milwaukee @ Philadephia (7 PM CT): The outcomes of these two games will determine who gets the 3rd and 4th seed between Cleveland and Philadelphia. A LeBron James team has not been seeded lower than 2nd since 2008 and both times that team was the fourth seed, he lost in the second round.
Russell Westbrook on people who say he is “stat-padding by stealing rebounds.” Via Royce Young.