Coming into this series, the status of Mike Conley was highly questionable. Many hoped for the Grizzlies' floor general to be on the court by Game 3, but he surprised many by showing up for Game 2 at Oracle Arena. His return has helped to propel the Grizz to a 2-1 series lead again the Golden State Warriors. Many said Memphis would be swept or crushed in five games of this series. Well, the Grizzlies have already disproved a large chunk of experts' predictions, but there's still a lot of basketball to be played. Some say the Golden State just had an "off night" in terms of their shooting on Saturday night. But they've had two "off nights" in a row. Is Golden State missing open looks, or have the Grizzlies gotten into their heads? Perhaps, it's a little bit of both. No doubt, the Warriors will come out Monday fired up and will leave it all on the court, because if they lose, it will be tough for the Warriors to come back from a 3-1 deficit. Game 4 is a huge opportunity for the Grizzlies. How can they take care of business on their home court for a second time and avoid the split?
- What: Game 4 between Memphis and Golden State
- Where: FedexForum in Memphis, TN
- When: 8:30PM CT
Keys To Victory
1. Continue To Guard The Three Point Line
In each of the past two games, the Grizzlies have held the Warriors to 6-26 from three (23.1%). To contrast, the Warriors shot 13-28 from three (46.4%) in Game 1. The Grizzlies have done a great job of forcing the Warriors to take contested or ill-advised threes over the course of the past two matches. In addition, the presence of Mike Conley on Steph Curry has helped as Conley has played superb defense on Curry, and Tony Allen has locked down on Klay Thompson. Curry and Klay combined for 16-34 and 5-16 from three in Game 3. The Grizzlies made the Warriors work for every shot, and consequently, wore them down as the game went on. As a result, even when Klay, Steph, or other Warriors players got open looks, they were to tired too knock them down like they normally would, or they had to release their shot extremely quickly before a Memphis player raced up to guard them. Memphis has done an incredible job rotating on defense and forcing Golden State to turn the ball over this past couple of games.
On this play, the Warriors tried to pass it out to Steph for a three, but Jeff Green did a great job of closing out on Curry and preventing him from taking an open shot.
As soon as Curry realized he couldn't take the three, he tried to pass it to his teammate, who also was open for three. However, Tony Allen anticipates the pass and rushes up to Draymond Green.
Because of his keen defensive anticipation, Tony rushes past Green and steals the ball
The Warriors had 17 turnovers Saturday night. Tony Allen has been in Klay Thompson's head and has played tremendous defense, but he's got to continue to make Klay take bad shots. In addition, Memphis has to enforce stifling defensive pressure and cause Golden State to make offensive errors.
2. Stay Out Of Foul Trouble
For some of Game 3, the refs seemed to allow a decent amount of contact without a foul being called. However, as the game wore on, more and more fouls were called. In the fourth quarter alone, the Grizzlies were called for 13 fouls. Marc Gasol fouled out in the final period despite only committing one foul in the first half. The fouls by Memphis allowed Golden State to get into the bonus and allowed them to almost rally back from a double digit deficit. If the Grizzlies want to grab a win Monday, they're going to have to watch their fouling and not allow the refs to rattle them.
3. Grind It Out
During the past two games, the Grizz have held the Warriors to under 100 points. The Grizzlies have also scored in the nineties in both games. The Warriors are 44-2 when holding their opponents under 100 points. Their two losses are from none other than the Grizzlies. Since Mike Conley has returned, Memphis has done a great job controlling the pace of this series. Memphis put on a defensive clinic in the last game as they held the Warriors under 90 points. The last time the Warriors scored under 90 points was in a December 25th loss against the Clippers. In the postseason, the Grizzlies are currently ranked 11th in pace, while the Warriors have dropped to 12th. This is the polar opposite of the regular season, in which Memphis ranked 26th, and the Warriors ranked 1st. Playing the Grizzlies' pace has prevented the Warriors from having tons of fast break points and turning the game into a half court game, which is to the Grizzlies' benefit. Saturday night was probably the Grizzlies' best defensive effort of the postseason, and they're going to need another team effort on Monday night. Mike Conley once again has to set the pace of the game and lead the Grizzlies. If Conley can overpower Steph Curry and keep the game where the Grizzlies' want, Memphis has a good chance of a victory in the Grindhouse.
4. Make sure to contain David Lee
Marreese Speights is out for Game 4 with a right calf strain, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see David Lee get some playing time from now on in this series. In this postseason, Lee's presence has been practically nonexistent. During the regular season, he averaged 7.9 PPG and 5.2 rebounds per game. In the playoffs Lee has only played twice, which was in Game 1 and 2 of this series. He played extremely limited minutes, however. With Speights out, one would have to assume that Lee would be inserted into the bench lineup. Speights is a bad loss for the Warriors as he gave them some size off the bench and was averaging 7 points a game in this series. Lee is smaller in stature but provides more jump-shooting abilities than Speights does. Lee has been a non-factor this playoff series, but Memphis has to be sure to keep it that way. A breakout game from David Lee does not bode well for Memphis, as they don't need someone exploding off the bench for Golden State. If they can keep Lee under wraps, then that eliminates more scoring from the Warriors' bench. Festus Ezeli might also get more minutes in the absence of Speights. In the series, he's averaging 2.3 PPG. Memphis' bench was great the last game, and they'll need to be that good again. Kosta Kuofos was especially good the last game as he had 8 points and 6 rebounds in 15 minutes. Hopefully Joerger deploys him again and Kosta can provide more meaningful minutes.
All in all, the Grizzlies have played solid, team basketball the last two games, but the Warriors are only looking to split Memphis' home stand to gain back home court advantage. It is crucial that Memphis come out on Monday night again with the underdog mentality and jump on the Warriors with stifling defense.
The Warriors will be in slight desperation mode Monday night, as another loss at the Grindhouse could be the beginning of the end to their championship hopes. FedEx Forum will be sold out and crazy again on Monday, and the Grizzlies will feed off of the crowd's intensity. Tony Allen will continue to wreak havoc, and despite the Splash Brothers' best efforts, they'll be unable to overcome Memphis' grind-it-out style of play. Steph Curry will have a better night than he's had the past couple of games, but his efforts alone won't be enough to win the game. Marc and Z-Bo will continue with their dominating play, and Memphis' bench will overpower the Warriors' bench. Memphis will continue to make everything difficult for the Warriors, and it'll be another low scoring match.
Prediction: Memphis 98, Golden State 91