Memphis (30-21) at Oklahoma City (28-22)
When: Friday, February 3rd 2017
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: FSN Southeast, FSN Oklahoma
The Memphis Grizzlies look to stay hot on their current six-game road trip when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night. Memphis opened the trip by losing to Portland but rebounded by taking care of the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets by an average of 15.3 points. “It feels like we’ve finally got a good little stride going,” point guard Mike Conley said after Wednesday’s 119-99 win over the Nuggets. “I definitely think this is one of the best stretches we’ve played.” All-Star center Marc Gasol scored 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting against the Nuggets and is averaging 27.3 points over the last nine games. Memphis is just 5-4 during his run, but it’s the defense that has allowed an average of 110.8 points during the four defeats. Veteran Vince Carter registered 14 points, six assists and five rebounds and made all three of his 3-point attempts against Denver. The teams split two meetings earlier this season with the Grizzlies’ win being a 114-80 rout on December 29th. Memphis will finish up the road trip in Minnesota on Saturday.
The Thunder have found the going a little tough with the loss of Enes Kanter. They have dropped three straight including a 128-100 home loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. The Thunder are slowly dropping down the playoff seeding, but remain a comfortable six games clear of the 9th spot in the Western Conference. All-Star Russell Westbrook would play every minute of every game if allowed but coach Billy Donovan doesn’t want to increase his point guard’s playing time in the wake of the recent injury to Kanter (broken forearm). Oklahoma City dropped its first three games without Kanter by an average of 19.3 points. Some of their issues stem from the poor shooting from Victor Oladipo, who is 16-of-44 from the field over the past three games. Oklahoma City ranks 29th in the league in three-point shooting (32.2%), but are 9th defending it (35.2%). The Thunder will play eight of their next ten at home including visits from Cleveland and Golden State.
Memphis is playing well right now and they’re a decent road team. The Thunder have all kinds of problems and were blown-out earlier this season by the Grizzlies. I’ll take Memphis in a close game with Gasol being the difference underneath.
Pick: Grizzlies +1.5