A Western Conference contest is set to tip off on Sunday as the Memphis Grizzlies (17-17) are on the road to face the Oklahoma City Thunder (16-22). The Thunder are coming off a Saturday afternoon blowout at the hands of the New York Knicks and now face Memphis on the second day of a back-to-back.
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder
These two teams are separated by one spot in the standings, and with 40 games in 68 nights remaining, all games carry a high level of importance.
Memphis Grizzlies Preview
The Memphis Grizzlies are coming off a dramatic loss to Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, 103-102, that dropped them to 17-17 on the year.
Guard Ja Morant did everything he could in the fourth quarter, attacking the paint and creating for others. With the Nuggets leading by a point, Brandon Clarke turned away Jokic’s shot to give the Grizzlies the final possession of the game.
Morant was stopped while trying to get to the basket, and this is where the dramatic finish took place, as a heavy contest by Jokic denied the final shot attempt. Morant and the Grizzlies felt he was fouled even though there was no whistle.
Forwards Clarke and Dillon Brooks led the Grizzlies with 20 points apiece. Morant chipped in 16 points and nine assists, while big man Jonas Valančiūnas had his 22nd double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort.
Oklahoma City Thunder Preview
The Thunder sit in a tie for 11th place in the Western Conference standings as of now. They are in the midst of a stretch of games where they can make up ground moving forward.
Oklahoma City had won two consecutive games before falling to the Knicks on Saturday. The Thunder have won four of their last seven games since their 12-19 start.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads the Thunder with an average of 23.5 points, 6.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game. Veteran big man Al Horford has helped with 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while Luguentz Dort is adding 12.4 points per game.
Despite floating around the .500 mark, the Thunder are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA, as they rank near the bottom of the league points per game at 106.2. They’re also 25th in field-goal percentage at .446 and 28th in 3-point percentage at .344.
Defensively, this team is in the same boat, giving up 111.3 points per game while allowing opponents to shoot 46.1% from the floor and 34.9% from 3-point range.
On Friday night, the Thunder agreed to trade guard Hamidou Diallo to the Detroit Pistons for guard Svi Mykhailiuk and a 2027 second-round draft pick. Diallo, who is only 22, has averaged career highs in scoring (11.9 points), rebounding (5.2) and assists (4.2) while playing a career-high 23.8 minutes per game.
Due to the rapid rise of second-year guard Lu Dort, Diallo became expendable, especially since he will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder Pick
Both of these teams will be competing to get back on the winning track. The matchup to pay attention to is the battle of point guards between Morant and Gilgeous-Alexander. These are two of the future stars in the league, and we should expect a heavy dose of the two going at one another.
When making your NBA betting picks, go with the visiting Grizzlies to win and cover.