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 (Questionable, thigh), Kyle Anderson (Out, shoulder), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Out, thigh), Avery Bradley (Out, shin), C.J. Miles (Out, foot), Dillon Brooks (Out, toe), Joakim Noah (Out, knee)
GOLDEN STATE: Damian Jones (Out, pectoral)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Delon Wright, Tyler Dorsey, Justin Holiday, Bruno Caboclo, Jonas Valanciunas
GOLDEN STATE: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins
When preparing this game preview, it was impossible to find a picture of the Golden State Warriors taking on the Memphis Grizzlies with an actually active player in the photo for Memphis.
Lots of Marc Gasol.
Lots of Omri Casspi...for some reason.
Not much Mike Conley, although he played 31 minutes in that November loss to the Warriors.
In fact, Conley and Ivan Rabb are the only players that got minutes for Memphis in that game that still remain active in the rotation for the Grizzlies just five and a half months later.
Dillon Brooks was the leading scorer.
Shelvin Mack and Garrett Temple combined for 28 points.
Jaren Jackson Jr. had five blocks.
Those were the days.
Fast forward to today, and the new-look Grizzlies are somehow walking taller than anyone expected they would. Coming off an unlikely 115-103 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis has found some success in their new lineups - and the fact that opposing teams have not seen much of these particular players lining up together is helping. The element of surprise is working for Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff and his crew, and it appears the only thing holding them back at the moment is their own inability to get up for “lesser opponents”. All of the last five wins for Memphis have been against current playoff teams, while three of their last five losses have come against teams currently in the lottery, like the Grizzlies.
Thankfully (?), the Golden State Warriors are as legit a squad as you will find in the NBA. So in this backwards season, perhaps the Grizzlies will continue the trend of competing with teams they probably have no business competing with.
Here’s the key thing to watch in this game tonight.
Disrupt the timing of the Warriors
The shooting prowess of the Warriors is well known. When Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson are your starting perimeter players, that is to be expected. The impressive side effect of that scoring skill are the assist numbers for Golden State. The Warriors average 29.2 assists per game, tops in the Association, and they have three players who average at least five assists per game (Draymond Green leads the team at 6.9 per game, followed by Kevin Durant at 5.7 and Steph Curry at 5.2), and even DeMarcus Cousins (3.6 assists per game) gets in on the fun.
While the fact Golden State has the top offensive rating in the NBA surprises no one, and the assists totals being so high shouldn’t either, it drives home the fact that the Warriors are as finely tuned a team offensive machine as ever before. The Grizzlies cannot match up with that fire power. They have to find ways to be aggressive with them defensively - force players off their spots, and make them work through and around bodies in the lane and on the perimeter on both ends of the floor. Physicality and attacking passing lanes with length is the friend of the Grizzlies in this one, because skill for skill the Warriors are just that much better.
While it would not be surprising in the least to see Memphis compete well in this game considering how they have handled playing superior squads of late, it would be foolish to pick the Grizzlies to beat the best the NBA has to offer. The Warriors have been giving guys nights off sporadically of late as they prepare for the playoffs, and if that were the case here I would pick Memphis to win.
But Golden State will have their full offensive arsenal at their disposal. Despite the best efforts of the Grizzlies, they simply will not be able to hang for a full 48 minutes.
Golden State 119, Memphis 105