Memphis travels to G.State Wednesday to take on the Dubs in what looks to be a potential playoffs preview where the winner will claim 4th place in the West. Just one loss separates the 2 teams going into Wednesday’s game with the Grizzlies sitting 22-10 on the season while Golden State is hot on their heels at 22-11.
The two teams only encounter this season was G.State’s home opener on November 2nd where the main story in the game was a season ending ACL injury to Warriors forward Brandon Rush. The Dubs went down to the Grizzlies that night, 104-94, extending their losing streak to Memphis that stretches back to November 2010.
The key to the game for the Warriors will be controlling the Memphis big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who between them are averaging averaging around 30 points and 20 rebounds per game. The duo paired with Rudy Gay makes for one of the most damaging offensive front courts in the league, averaging over half of their teams points on a nightly basis.
David Lee will have to have a big night for the Warriors to be in the game. Lee, who is 7th in the league in rebounding averaging 10.9 per game, will come up against the 2nd ranked rebounding team in the league. Randolph and co. pull in over 13 offensive rebounds per game, which ranks 3rd in the league, resulting in numerous 2nd chance points for the Grizzlies every game.
The backcourt battle will also be a tough one for the Warriors, with starters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson going toe to toe with one of the best defensive backcourt pairings in the league in Mike Conley and Tony Allen. The Grizzlies duo average over 4 steals a game this season and are excellent at closing out on 3pt threats. Memphis rank in the top 10 in opponent 3pt% and opponents 3pt makes per game. With the bulk of the Dubs scoring coming through 3 point shots by Curry, Thompson, Jarret Jack and rookie Harrison Barnes, G.State might have to find another scoring avenue when Conley and Allen are on the court.
The battle of the benches could be one where the Dubs have a slight advantage, with Jack, Carl Landry, Charles Jenkins and Draymond Green all being efficient options for coach Mark Jackson this year. Look for the Warriors to go with the 3 guard lineup of Curry, Jack and Thompson at times to try and force Lionel Hollins to play back up guards Wayne Ellington and Jarryd Bayless more then he would like.
This will be a big game for the Dubs, who are coming off a 4 day break and will be looking to bounce back after a tough loss to the Clippers. The Grizzlies have calmed down a bit after leading the league through the first 20 games, going .500 in their last 8 games.
My Pick: These teams are pretty evenly matched and I think it might come down to the home court advantage for the Warriors. Warriors by less than 5.