WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (16-8, 9-4 home) vs. Golden State Warriors (20-3, 11-1 away)
WHEN: 7:00 PM CT
WHERE: FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: Fox Sports Southeast/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley (Out, back), James Ennis (Out, calf), Brandan Wright (Out, ankle), Chandler Parsons (Out, knee), Vince Carter (Questionable, hip), Troy Daniels (Questionable, illness)
GOLDEN STATE- Draymond Green (Probable, ankle)
MEMPHIS- Andrew Harrison, Tony Allen, Troy Williams, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
GOLDEN STATE- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia
The Memphis Grizzlies are currently on what may be the most improbable winning streak of all-time.
No Mike Conley. No Chandler Parsons. No Brandan Wright, or Vince Carter, or James Ennis. And yet, here the Grizzlies are at 16-8 after winning five straight games by a combined 13 points. You have likely seen or heard the stats by now about being 11-0 in close/”clutch” games, you have watched this team fight their collective tails off to survive and advance.
Nothing has come easily to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Meanwhile, out in Warriors World, Golden State continues to live the dream. With Kevin Durant now in the fold, the Warriors have won 16 of their last 17 games and appear to be clicking on all cylinders. They have scored over 120 points in 11 of their 23 games. The Grizzlies haven’t scored 120 points all season in 24 games that include two double-overtime contests.
The Warriors point differential is +13.6. The Grizzlies is -.4. Golden State’s projected record is 19-4 according to basketball-reference.com. Memphis’ is 12-12. This looks like a lopsided mismatch on paper...because it is.
But games are not won and lost on paper. How can the Grizzlies somehow surprise the NBA world and knock of a better, more complete Golden State Warriors team?
- DEFEND THE THREE FOR DEAR LIFE- Over the course of three losses this season, Golden State has averaged shooting 22% from three. Naturally the Warriors shoot worse overall in losses than in wins, but Curry and company shoot 19% worse from beyond the arc in losses than in wins, compared to 7% worse overall from the field. It is of course easier said that done to stop the Golden State blitz from three, but that has to be a focus for the Grizzlies to have a chance.
- PICK YOUR POISON- You are not going to be able to stop all of them. What you must do is decide which of the Warriors gets a bit of an easier time and do your best to eliminate the rest of them. Gasol and JaMychal Green against Pachulia and Draymond may work out to be a wash (maybe even a Gasol/JaM win if they are both on), and Gasol/Green may be able to help off defensively in spots- the real question will be on the perimeter. Assuming Harrison defends Curry and Allen defends Durant, that leaves Troy Williams on Klay Thompson. Far from ideal, but that is the hand Memphis has been dealt. Limit Durant and Curry as much as you can, and wish Troy the best of luck
Golden State has a 64.4% chance to win tonight according to our friends at numberFire, and the wise guys in Vegas like Golden State by 10. No one is giving the Grizzlies a chance...and that is fine with them, as they are at their best more often than not in these kinds of situations. Remember, the last time Golden State was in FedExForum they were down by 10 and had to rally to survive and beat a team that started Jordan Farmar, played Matt Barnes 40 minutes and Xavier Munford 30 minutes. This Memphis team is better than that one was, injuries and all.
Unfortunately, this Warriors team is better as well. I expect Memphis to cover, but with Kevin Durant instead of Harrison Barnes, these Grizzlies just do not have the horses to beat the Warriors if Golden State plays near its best, as they have for most of this season. Anything is possible...but a Memphis win is not probable.
Golden State 105, Memphis 98