Golden State Warriors (15-20) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (22-15)
7:30 p.m. PST
TV: CSNBA, NBA TV | Radio: KNBR 680
Blog Buddy: Straight Outta Vancouver
After the Golden State Warriors' heartbreaking 104-103 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on February 18, head coach Mark Jackson commented that the loss came down to, "...the little things the little things that either win or lose ball games as we continue to find it out. "
At 4-6 in games decided by one possession this season, it's not so much that the Warriors can't do these thing as much as that it's been a struggle to find consistency in late game situations, whether it be due to predictable offensive sets, defensive lapses, or general confusion.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies were just at the beginning of a stretch of 12 games in which finishing out games - particularly defensively - has become a defining feature, as described by Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Ronald Tillery.
Memphis' defensive prowess in the last six minutes of games is what stands out most during its successful stretch. Opponents shot just 34 percent (23 of 67) down the stretch of games since Feb. 15 when the Griz beat New Jersey.
The Grizzlies' perimeter defense has been even more impressive during that span.
Consider this: Opponents made just 6 of 34 (.176) field goal attempts when the shot came from outside of six feet during that span.
The Grizzlies have won 10 of 12 games in that stretch, including three straight by two possessions or less ending with their win against the Warriors.
But to add to Tillery's point, the Grizzlies enter tonight's game as winners of four straight and have been impressive defensively over the entirety of that period: in three of those four games, the Grizzlies have posted defensive ratings of under 90 points allowed per 100 possessions. Just to put that in perspective, the Philadelphia 76ers - who they held to 80.9 points/100 possessions - lead the NBA with a defensive rating of 94 points allowed per 100 possessions.
Both of the games between these two teams have been close, with the Grizzlies winning a combined 2 points. But the rebounding battle has not been particularly close in either game as the Grizzlies beat the Warriors on the offensive boards by a significant margin both in both games.
With Memphis ramping up the defensive intensity lately, the Warriors will almost certainly have to improve the situation on the boards to win tonight. Of course, that's not a point unique to their series with the Grizzlies, but it seems to the significant difference both viscerally - in terms of their inability to secure a defensive rebound at the end of the last game - and statistically.