“Just keeping a body connected to him is important,” Donovan added. “A lot of times when you get off those guys’ bodies going underneath, they’re crafty enough to twist a screen coming back the other way or kind of probe behind it and stay back there and force you to make decisions.”
For the Thunder, that means players defending the ball must go over the top of screens to prevent him from taking open jump shots behind the big men. Some teams don’t employ that strategy against guards who aren’t known as shooters, opting to go under screens to prevent drives, but the Thunder sees being aggressive and attacking the ballhandler as the best possible route.
A week after its last battle at Chesapeake Energy Arena, a loss to the sub-.500 Los Angeles Lakers, the Thunder has a chance to get back into the win column with a battle with the rebuilding Grizzlies. While Mike Conley is injured and Zach Randolph and Tony Allen are no longer with Memphis, Thunder players are preparing for a physical battle that revolves around the two-way abilities of center Marc Gasol. As both a playmaker and a defensive anchor, Gasol can be a handful.