INTEGRIS Game Day Report: Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies – Jan. 11, 2017

By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | mailbag@okcthunder.com


Broadcast Information

  • Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. CT
  • Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma
  • Radio: WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network

When assessing a previous game like the one out in Memphis a couple weeks ago, a rare blowout loss, sometimes there’s a tendency to just throw it away. Emotionally, for sure, the Thunder has done that. But tactically, there are areas inside the game that this Thunder squad wants to do better against the Grizzlies tonight back at home in Chesapeake Energy Arena.

While the team can alter pick-and-roll coverages, there are some aspects of this battle that it will simply have to do better – defending the three-point line, rebounding and protecting the ball.

“You always have to make adjustments from game to game and look at different things offensively about how they defended us and what they tried to do, then areas that they to hurt us defensively,” Head Coach Billy Donovan explained.

“There will be plenty of things that we need to do better in the game that you just can’t escape,” Donovan continued. “You’re never going to escape that when shot goes up you need to rebound the ball. You’re not escaping that. Transition defense, you’re not escaping that.”

1-on-1: Enes Kanter

The Grizzlies boast an incredible point center in Marc Gasol, who operates from the top of the key as a distributor and scorer. He’s already attempted 129 three-pointers this year and made an astounding 39.5 percent of them, while also averaging 4.1 assists per game to go with his 19.7 points. Off the bench Zach Randolph has been a factor, scoring 13.7 points to go with 7.8 rebounds. The key against Memphis is to not give them the easy possessions that can lead to layups dunks or wide open threes.

“They shot the ball extremely well from behind the three-point line against us,” Donovan said. “They’re a team that rebounds the ball at an exceptional level. They have a center who is an elite passer, scorer and offensive player.”

Shootaround: Russell Westbrook

“They’re a very good team and we’ll have to play very well in different phases of the game,” Donovan added. “(Last game) we turned the ball over quite a bit on offense so our security of the ball and making good decisions will be important.”

Getting a grip on the game starts from the very outset. Simply put, the Thunder has to be the team that hits first and forces Memphis to be on its heels. Bodying up far from the rim to force post ups higher on the floor, clogging up driving lanes to prevent kickouts and then attacking downhill on offense are all ways to hurt the Grizzlies over the course of the game.

“We have to have a hit first mentality and be ready to play for 48 minutes,” point guard Russell Westbrook said.

“They got us last time and we have to come back prepared,” forward Jerami Grant added. “We know how they play, so we just have to come out ready.”

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Home tonight on Fox Sports Oklahoma

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