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2022 NBA Playoffs: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors Game 1 Preview

How can the Grizzlies land the first punch?

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Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (56-26, 30-11 home) vs. Golden State Warriors (53-29, 22-19 away)

WHAT: 2022 NBA Playoffs - Western Conference 2nd Round Game 1


WHERE: FedExForum - Memphis, TN


BETTING INFORMATION (per DraftKings): Golden State (-2, -110), Memphis (+2, -110). ML - Golden State (-130), Memphis (+110). O/U at 220 (-110)


MEMPHIS: Ziaire Williams (Questionable, right knee), Steven Adams (Out, Health & Safety Protocols), Santi Aldama (Out, knee), Killian Tillie (Out, lower back procedure recovery)

GOLDENS STATE: Andre Iguodala (Out, neck), James Wiseman (Out, knee)


MEMPHIS: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Xavier Tillman

GOLDEN STATE: Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Six Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

For the first time in the Nxt-Gen era, the Memphis Grizzlies have won a playoff series, moving on to the second round of the postseason. Now the Golden State Warriors await them.

There is already a bit of history between these two squads at this iteration of themselves. They played each other in the play-in game for the 8th seed in last year’s playoffs, which was a thrilling contest. The Grizzlies won that battle on their way to a first-round exit at the hands of the Utah Jazz.

This time around, we should expect the same amount of pop in this series, but these two teams are just a smidge different this time around. More notably, Klay Thompson is back for the Golden State Warriors after a two-year injury. They also experienced a leap from third-year guard Jordan Poole, who has emerged as another Splash Brother. For the Grizzlies, Desmond Bane has taken a similar jump to Poole, solidifying himself as the 2nd-best offensive weapon on the team.

Nonetheless, this is a series that can be predicted with a coin flip. Both teams are pretty even, and Game 1 should be a good illustration of that.

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Navigating defensive matchups

The Grizzlies and Warriors are both known for making life easier on difference for their offensive supernovas, Ja Morant and Stephen Curry. We probably won’t see these two players guard each other for the majority of the series. Dillon Brooks will take the primary responsibility of defending Curry, while Klay Thompson or Andrew Wiggins will be tasked with Morant.

Curry has improved defensively over the years, but there are fewer players for him to check defensively on this version of the Grizzlies. It’ll also be harder to “hide” Curry, since Poole isn't a plus defender at this stage either. He’ll likely see time guarding Brooks, or even Kyle Anderson is some lineups.

Morant took on the defensive assignment of Patrick Beverley in the last series. Though he had some bright spots stopping Anthony Edwards, he won’t be tasked with defending a primary offensive weapon. So, who would they assign Morant to? Klay Thompson would be a good option for Morant, as he’s less reliant on taking opponents off the dribble and attacking the rim since his injury. If the Warriors go small, the Grizzlies could counter with Kyle Anderson or Brandon Clarke guarding Thompson, while Morant guards Wiggins. If Wiggins beats you, it’s a “tip of the cap” kind of thing.

This development won’t make or break the series, but it’ll be interesting to monitor how each team navigates this situation in this first game.

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE via Getty Images

Get off on the right foot with a full 48 minutes

The Memphis Grizzlies trailed for the majority of the series with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but still won in 6 games. They deserve credit for their resiliency and their poise throughout the series. However, they also fell behind due to a lack of urgency and force.

That wouldn’t fly with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have been one of the league’s best teams this season, and they’re at full strength. They have a plethora of weapons capable of getting hot. In addition, they’re a veteran team with a wealth of experience that will exploit slow starts.

The Grizzlies could make their imprint on the series by taking the first swing in Game 1. They’ve shown this year that they’re a great matchup against this team, as the Grizzlies won the season series 3-1. In those games, they played with great poise, and they also took advantage of the Warriors’ turnovers and lack of size in the interior.

Despite the rest differential between these two teams, the Grizzlies can still strike and get off to the right foot in this series. It starts with having urgency for all 48 minutes.

Betting Outlook and Predictions

Betting this game is a tricky situation, given the talent levels of both teams and the rest difference between them.

However, the Memphis Grizzlies will be returning to their raucous home crowd after winning their first playoff series as a game. The energy of the environment will fuel them and allow them to land the first punch on the Warriors.

Prediction: Grizzlies - 113, Warriors - 108. Grizzlies +2

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