WHERE: Oracle Arena in Oakland, California
WHEN: 9:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: ESPN/Fox Sports Southeast
HOW TO LISTEN: 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Tony Allen (Questionable, hamstring) GOLDEN STATE- NONE
MEMPHIS- Jordan Farmar, Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Zach Randolph, Chris Andersen
GOLDEN STATE- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut
For the Warriors' perspective, check out Golden State Of Mind.
This game looks like a massive blowout in the making. The Memphis Grizzlies are 3-13 in their last 16 games. The Golden State Warriors are 13-3. The Warriors' two best players, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, are two potential first-team All-NBA players. The Grizzlies' two best players, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, are out for the season due to injuries. The Grizzlies are on the second game of a back to back after a double-digit loss to the Clippers, and the Warriors are at home after two days off waiting to light up their home stadium like Christmas at the prospect of making history in from of their home fans.
73-9 feels like a formality. The only thing between Golden State and destiny is the broken Memphis Grizzlies...but these Grizzlies played them tough in Memphis this past weekend. How in the world can the Grizzlies hope to win this game? Three keys-
Force Turnovers and Protect the Rock
The Memphis Grizzlies only had six turnovers in their 100-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors, and holding on to valuable possessions surely helped the Grizzlies keep the game close. However, the 11 turnovers that Golden State suffered, while more than Memphis' six, is not enough...especially not when playing the Warriors at home tonight. Memphis has to get that turnover number for Golden State closer to 20 than 10, and the must keep their turnovers around five, if they have any hope of pulling off the upset.
Survive the Wave
Oracle Arena is going to be as hyped up an atmosphere as you can possibly imagine for a regular season game. These Warriors may try to win the game in the first 6 minutes of the contest. Memphis must be prepared to ride this wave of emotion and endure it- the game can and will be settled down if the Grizzlies can get in to their rhythm. A Zach Randolph run of scores here, a series of stops and foul trouble for Draymond Green there... throw in some forced turnovers and a little bit of luck on a run of made threes...taking the wind out of the crowd's sails would do wonders for Memphis.
But they must survive that initial punch...and it is going to be a doozy.
Make Draymond Less Efficient
A lot was made of the the struggles of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry Saturday night, and there is obviously reason for that- 5-24 shooting from range is less than ideal, especially for the famed "Splash Brothers". The Warriors were able to hang around because of the inspired play of Draymond Green, who scored 23 points on 10-14 shooting alongside 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. He was a presence on both ends of the court, and was arguably the best player on the floor Saturday night.
While Green has surely proven at this point he is a top-15 or so NBA player, he cannot be allowed to make this kind of impact if the Grizzlies hope to win. He surely will be emotionally charged- he perhaps can be had mentally by someone like Zach Randolph, who he looks up to as a fellow Michigan Spartan, and if he is off on his shot this will give Memphis one less offensive weapon to worry about.
Grizzlies fans (for the most part) want the Grizzlies to ruin this for the Warriors. They want it bad. They want something to put a bit of shine on this struggle of a season for the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis will have to play an efficient, explosive, emotionally charged, damn near perfect game to pull off the upset of the year, and perhaps the century.
They simply do not have the horses to get it done. Being wrong would be awesome, but history will be made as the Grizzlies fall to 42-40 and head in to the playoffs having gone 3-14 in their last 17 games.
Congrats to the Warriors, win or lose, on a hell of a season. Everyone resets to 0-0 this weekend as the playoffs get underway.