OKC at MEM Game Preview –Bringing Physicality on Every Play
MEMPHIS – Over the course of 82 games, the Thunder will be tested by all types and styles of opponents. In a 24-hour span, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team will receive two very distinct and nearly opposite challenges.
After a 101-92 victory over the Atlanta Hawks who like to play an up-tempo, drive-and-kick style of offense, the Thunder hopped on a flight to Memphis to face the Grizzlies, a team that likes to be physical, slow the tempo and outmuscle its opponents. The Thunder is a tough, hard-nosed team as well, but also one that can play at different speeds and with a variety of lineups thanks to the flexibility on the roster. Brooks’ squad passed its up-and-down test on Tuesday and hopes to do the same in what looks to be a grinder of a game on Wednesday.
“This team we’re playing tomorrow is physical, pound it in the post, slow the game down team and we just have to prepare for it,” forward Kevin Durant said.
“They’re tough, especially at home,” guard Russell Westbrook explained. “They’re a grind-it-out team. We have to come with the same mindset and play defensively and rebound the basketball as well.”
The mentality that allows the Thunder to transition so quickly and adapt to playing such different teams has been in place for years, ever since the team began its Oklahoma City era. With a laser-sharp focus in the film room, on the practice floor, in the huddle and in games, the Thunder is able to compartmentalize everything it does, using lessons from past matchups while still staying in the moment.
“You learn from the game and figure out what you could have done better,” Brooks said. “We focus in on the next team quickly, whether we win or lose.”
“It’s a great matchup between us two and we’re looking forward to playing,” Durant said.
In the Notes:
- The Thunder went 1-2 against the Grizzlies in the regular season last year, and overall is 10-8 against Memphis.
- The Thunder is 4-1 when five-or-more players score in double figures so far this season.
- The Thunder’s win against Atlanta on Tuesday was the 250th victory of Scott Brooks’ career as the Thunder’s head coach.
7:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network