WHERE: Oracle Arena in San Francisco, California
WHEN: 9:30 PM CT
HOW TO WATCH: NBATV, Fox Sports Southeast/ 92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS- Mike Conley (Out, Achilles), Wayne Selden Jr. (Out, Quad), Brandan Wright (Doubtful, Groin), Chandler Parsons (Out, Rest)
GOLDEN STATE- Steph Curry (Out, Ankle), Draymond Green (Questionable, Right Shoulder), Shaun Livingston (Questionable, Right Knee), Zaza Pachulia (Left Shoulder)
MEMPHIS- Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Marc Gasol
GOLDEN STATE- Patrick McCaw, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia
The sledding doesn’t get much easier for the Grizzlies on Wednesday night. From the top of East to, now, the top of West, Memphis heads to Bay Area to take on the Golden State Warriors once again this season. The Grizzlies start their shorter of the two West coast trips coming up in the next month traveling to San Francisco on Wednesday and then Phoenix on Thursday before coming back home for Christmas.
Boy, does it feel like such a different, less happy time since the Grizzlies last faced the Warriors. Way back on October 21st, Memphis took down Golden State at the Forum 111-101 moving to 2-0 on the year. It was the win that people started taking note of the Grizzlies this season. The team was rolling out the gate and looked like they would be proving critics wrong again.
Now, the team has only won 8 games since that one, and there is much uncertainty about the franchise. Unfortunately, Golden State is the team everyone thought they would be. Both teams will be rested with the Warriors playing Monday in the Los Angeles, and the Grizzlies not playing since Saturday in Memphis. One thing is for certain with these two teams: The Grizzlies are always in the heads of the Warriors. They can beat them no matter how stacked the cards are against Memphis. Even with the season in question, Wednesday night will prove to be another classic.
Here are three things to note before tonight’s matchup:
Slowing Down the Warriors Offense
Nothing has changed with this Warriors team since the second game of the season. Even with some injuries, they have found their stride winning 9 of their last 10 games. They once again have the league’s best offensive rating at 114.0 and the second-best defensive rating at 101.3. These two things are constant with a super team of their caliber. However, even with this Memphis has the key to stop them.
It’s slowing down their pace and playing Memphis style basketball. Now, this season the Grizzlies have looked better running in space than many years before. However, that comes off defensive plays starting transition basketball. This, they need to keep, but the Memphis style that has been key against the Warriors runs through Gasol. Since Golden State ranks 5th in pace at 103.01, Memphis will need to slow that down and play their game to have a chance in this one.
All of that being said, Marc Gasol is going to be the most important part if the Grizzlies have a chance. In October, he had 34 points and 14 rebounds. A signature performance against the Warriors for Gasol. It all comes from them having zero answers for him inside. Zaza Pachulia is not going to be the saving grace against Gasol. This is why the formula of success goes through Gasol in every trip down the court. Against Boston, Marc had a classic Marc game controlling the game and the come back in that third quarter. He finished with 30 points and 10 boards.
Both of these teams do not have any presence inside. They fit the mold of the “new NBA,” however, and this means Gasol can feast. To win Wednesday, Gasol is going to have to come hungry and touch the ball a lot.
Controlling the Paint
Building off of the Marc Gasol discussion, the paint will be open for control in this one. Points in the paint and rebounds will be something the Grizzlies need to dominate if they think they can win this game. So, this means JaMychal Green has to perform. This season he has been awful on isolation defense. It possibly could come from the fear of reinjuring his ankle, but it is much worse than last season. Switches on him could be terrifying in this one, so it may be more important for him to focus on the offensive side of the ball instead.
He needs to help contribute in the frontcourt with Gasol most likely having a great night. Either clear the paint for him to work, or get in there and battle for boards as they focus on Gasol. Green has yet to have a dominant game this season, and I keep writing about how he must if the Grizzlies want to get out of this rut. Wednesday could be the opportunity (also have written that sentence way too much).
My prediction is that the Warriors take this one, but it’ll be close. Gasol will get the share of the offensive production, but I am not sure there are enough options to distribute the points to match the Warriors. The Grizzlies will not go down easy, however.
Grizzlies come in on four days of rest. That will be important as Memphis will be desperate for other scoring options. At the end of the day, I do not think these options will be enough to match the dominant Warriors who have found their groove.
Spread: GS -TBD. As I said in the intro, the Grizzlies know how to play the Warriors. Yes, this game is at The Oracle and Memphis is down as of late, but these games teams get up for. I expect a close one. Golden State should win, but take Memphis and the points.
Golden State- 103, Memphis- 97
All Stats provided by NBA.com