WHEN: 8:00 PM CST
WHERE: Chase Center - San Francisco, CA
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: ESPN/92.9 FM ESPN Memphis
MEMPHIS: Sean McDermott (left foot soreness, Out)
GOLDEN STATE: Damion Lee (Health and Safety Protocols, Out), Kelly Oubre Jr. (wrist, Out), James Wiseman (right meniscus surgery, Out), Klay Thompson (knee, Out)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:
MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas
GOLDEN STATE: Stephen Curry, Kent Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Job’s not finished.
This time last year we were all huddled around our televisions and laptops as The Last Dance galvanized a nation stuck in quarantine. One of the cooler moments of the Bulls playoff runs was when Michael Jordan stated he was “Only packing one suit” after losing Game 5 of the 1993 NBA Finals. After handling business Wednesday night against the Spurs, the Grizzlies are back where they have been most comfortable - on the road. Ja Morant and the “Road Warriors” seem to have a similar mindset as Jordan and the ‘93 Chicago Bulls as he stated they’re “packing for a road trip,” in his postgame press conference.
They’ll have a tall task in front of them as they head to The Bay for the second time in a week to face Steph Curry and the Warriors. The Grizzlies played the Golden State Warriors tough on their home floor - a court in which they rarely lose - last Sunday, but the stakes have been raised even higher for tonight’s contest. They’ve beaten the Warriors this season. They’ve played them tight in a de facto play-in game last Sunday. Now the young Grizzlies team has to step up one last time - with some minor adjustments - to bring their preseason playoff dreams to fruition.
Keys to the contest.
Dillon Brooks Stays in
That is what Steph Curry shot on Sunday with Dillon Brooks as the primary defender.
Curry finished the game 16-36 (9-22 3PT) including 11 points on 50% shooting after Dillon Brooks fouled out midway through the 4th quarter.
Everyone knows that the Warriors will go as far as Steph Curry takes them. Dillon Brooks - the Spark Plug that he is - did an excellent job making Curry uncomfortable by staying on his hip and staying physical with him throughout the afternoon. The Grizzlies will need Brooks to continue his NBA All-Defense campaign sans his propensity to foul - something he has led the league in the past two seasons.
It will be a tight whistle in Chase Center Friday night but if Dillon Brooks can figure out how to pester Curry without fouling - a locked in Brooks can potentially alter the trajectory of the game if he lasts all four quarters.
Stop Jordan Poole - Wake Up the Bench
Jordan Poole is steadily working himself into “Grizz Killer” conversations.
The 2nd year guard has been a thorn in the Grizzlies side throughout the season averaging 22 points per game against them in 3 games this season. Poole’s performance on Sunday was game altering as he kept the Warriors afloat when Steph Curry, Draymond Green or both were off of the floor. Defensively, the Grizzlies will have to alter their scheme in some fashion because what they have done against him this season just hasn’t worked.
Speaking of the bench, the unit that has been one of the best in the league throughout the season has been MIA this week. Intensity increased, spacing tightened and the caliber of the unit has plummeted as of late.
Throughout this week, the Grizzlies starters have thrown haymakers jumping out to massive leads before a stagnant bench unit has allowed teams back into games. An adjustment will have to be made as it will be imperative for the Grizzlies to win the stretches without Curry and Green on the floor and in turn stay afloat when Ja, Jaren, and Dillon Brooks have to sit. Taylor Jenkins seemed to shrink the usually steady 10-man rotation in the 2nd half of the Spurs game playing his most productive players.
Whatever the decision, the bench will need to step up on both ends.
The Jonas Valanciunas Conundrum
First, Feed JV - preferably early and often. When the Warriors played their traditional lineup with Draymond Green at the four and Kevon Looney at the five he was unstoppable and a major factor in the team’s success on the glass and scoring. PLEASE don’t get three happy if its working and the inevitable Warriors avalanche hasn’t happened yet.
Next - the problem.
When the Warriors switched to their small ball lineup with Draymond Green at the five, Valanciunas was run off of the floor on Sunday. The Warriors picked up the pace offensively and trapped him defensively, limiting his effectiveness on both ends. These were the minutes that saw Grizzlies leads shrink and or Warriors leads extended as the Grizzlies were forced to turn to Brandon Clarke & Xavier Tillman Sr.
It’s time to adapt or die. Either the Grizzlies will have to make the Warriors play at their pace or they will have to find an effective lineup - with or without JV - to counter the Warriors small ball lineup that won’t lead to the wheels falling off.
Nobody but Kendrick Perkins is picking the Grizzlies to win this game. The assumption is that this game is already over.
The Memphis Grizzlies are once again the underdog - that’s exactly where this team and this city likes to be.
The game will be decided by the factors listed above - as well as at the free throw line. The Grizzlies are the David to Steph Curry and his aura’s Goliath but just like David, they are more than capable of rising to the occasion in hostile territory.
Let’s do this Road Warriors.
FINAL SCORE: Grizzlies 115, Warriors 111