It is a clash of two Western Conference teams pushing for better playoff positioning when the 28-22 Oklahoma City Thunder host the 30-21 Memphis Grizzlies tonight (8pm ET Friday). They are seventh and sixth, respectively, in their conference, but neither squad is very far from the fourth seed.
Oklahoma City is current on a three-game losing streak as it adjusts to the loss of Enes Kanter. Russell Westbrook is still putting up monster numbers, but his efficiency has plummeted over the past month or so under the stress of an enormous offensive burden.
Memphis has won four of its last five games behind strong contributions from its Big Three of Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph. The team seems to be gaining steam on both ends of the floor.
Before finalizing our betting predictions and picks, this preview takes a close look at the main factors that could influence the outcome of this NBA game.
Will Victor Oladipo Explode?
Without Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo is the Thunder’s second-most dangerous offensive weapon. Oladipo has been consistently decent over his past seven games — he’s scored between 12 and 20 points in every game and has taken between 11 and 18 shots in every contest — but Oklahoma City needs more from him to take pressure off of Russell Westbrook.
It won’t be easy for Oladipo to have a big night. He will probably be matched up with Tony Allen, one of the league’s top perimeter defenders. But the former Indiana standout has proven an ability to create a whole bunch of offense for himself and others in the past and is always a threat to take over a game.
A line of 25 points on something like 9-of-18 shooting would help Oklahoma City tremendously.
Can the Memphis Bench Unit Impose Its Will On the Weak Thunder Reserves?
The Grizzlies bench isn’t anything special. A lot of its production comes from Zach Randolph, who carries the unit with low-post offense. That said, it’s almost for sure going to do better on Friday than the Thunder reserves minus Enes Kanter.
OKC’s bench really struggles to find much punch on the offensive end of the floor, often losing leads for Westbrook and the other starters when the superstar hits the bench. The offensive-minded guys the Thunder do have in reserve (Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Kyle Singler, for example) are not big enough difference-makers on that end to survive in lineups without Westbrook creating for them.
When Russ is out, Memphis must double down on the effort and severely outscore the Thunder bench players. The Grizzlies have a bit more potential to stagger their lineups with offensive talent and could even use some starters when the Thunder are using primarily bench lineups.
Can Russell Westbrook Dominate Mike Conley?
Russell Westbrook outplays almost all of his point guard matchups. That’s just what happens when you have a guy who’s averaging 30-10-10 and is close to the top of most peoples’ MVP rankings.
That said, Mike Conley will be one of his tougher counterparts. Conley is an above-average defender who excels in several different offensive skills. He is a fringe All-Star guy and should make Westbrook’s life difficult on both ends.
Westbrook is still the favorite to outplay Conley, but if it’s close to a draw at the point guard position, Memphis should be satisfied. The Grizzlies will be in trouble if Westbrook goes bananas on offense and limits Conley on the other end.
Our Preview’s Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Betting Picks & Predictions
The Thunder have become even more reliant on Russell Westbrook in Enes Kanter’s absence. The cumulative effects of this stress have already caused Russ to slow down and this preview does not think that will be any different tonight against the Grizzlies’ stingy defense.
Steven Adams may limit Marc Gasol, but Mike Conley and Zach Randolph should be able to get going enough to grab the win. Here are our betting predictions & picks:
- Looking at the lines from the top USA betting sites, they have Thunder favored by 1.5 points on the spread. I understand the Thunder being at home helps their standing here, but the Grizzlies are playing considerably better right now. Bet on Memphis +1.5pts @ -110 with Bovada, 5Dimes, MyBookie. It is -115 for the same spread with BetOnline.
- The most common over-under for tonight’s matchup is 203.5. That is a low over-under, but the Thunder are a defensive-minded team that will be eager to bounce back from allowing 128 points to the Bulls on Wednesday. Their offense will have trouble scoring against the Grizzlies’ physical defense, so take the under 203.5pts @ -110 with 5Dimes, BetOnline or MyBookie. Bovada are yet to publish betting odds for this game’s points total.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.