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Warriors vs. Grizzlies, NBA Playoffs 2015: Golden State's advantages and disadvantages against Memphis

Once again, SB Nation asked Golden State of Mind a set of questions for their Warriors-Grizzlies preview on the national site. And once again, our staff had so much to say in response that we've turned the questions into a roundtable three parts.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

As Basketball Jonez alluded to in his preview of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Memphis Grizzlies have been among the teams that many Golden State Warriors fans have feared most since well beyond this season.

The Warriors didn't beat the Grizzlies at all from November 2010 to November 2013, which was part of a stretch in which the Golden State lost 16 of 19 games to Memphis from 2008 until December of last season — to put that in perspective a bit better, the Warriors haven't beaten the Grizzlies three consecutive times since Baron Davis was around. So of course it was the Grizzlies who ended the Warriors 16-game winning streak earlier this season.

In other words, the Grizzlies have owned the Warriors pretty much since last decade up until December 2014. Sure the Warriors have won four of the last five against the Grizzlies, but whatever fear you have about facing the Grizzlies — if any — is justified, or at least understandable.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the details of why the Grizzlies have had such a stranglehold on the Warriors have remained pretty consistent: much stronger post play. So when the GSoM staff was asked by SB Nation to list advantages and disadvantages in facing the Grizzlies, it should come as little surprise that the disadvantages revolved around frontcourt play and advantages around some variant of small-ball, perimeter, or we-have-Steph-Curry-and-you-don't play.

But what really stood out were the responses to the question about who needs to step up for the Warriors in this series: there was very little agreement on that, with eight writers offering six different responses. Perhaps you could consider that a reflection of healthy respect for a team that the Warriors have struggled to find answers to in recent history; I prefer to see it as a reflection of just how much firepower the Warriors have.

The GSoM panel

Enough talk from me — the following is our panel, which is even bigger this time than it was for the last series:

  • Andy Liu
  • Arno Ferguson
  • Basketball Jonez
  • Bram Kincheloe
  • Conrad Chow
  • Jared Stearne
  • Jeff Cheal
  • Sam Sorkin

That's so many participants that I've decided not to add any more than a little preamble (don't worry — I'll go on the record with my predictions in a future post) and turn this into a three-part group playoff preview. Jeff's full responses have already been used as part of SBN's preview so without further ado, here are our staff's complete responses to the questions.

1. What do you think is your team's biggest advantage in this series?

Andy Liu: Defense. The Golden State Warriors should spend a good amount of time locking down the Memphis Grizzlies, especially if Mike Conley Jr. can't play. And even then, the Grizzlies aren't a high-octane team. The Warriors can struggle a bit in the halfcourt but if they can get out in transition after stops, they'll fare very well.

Without Mike Conley, can the Grizzlies begin to match up at the point guard position? -Bram Kincheloe

Arno Ferguson: Oooof. Health, Homecourt advantage, the Splash Brothers -- I'm going to go with health. With two ailing point guards, Memphis is going to have a hard time limiting the Splash Effect (unless Tony Allen multiplies), as well as running their offense efficiently against a top-tier defense.

Basketball Jonez: I think our biggest advantage in the series has to be our shooting differential. On the season, the Warriors put up a team eFG% of .540, while holding opponents to .470. Memphis, on the other hand, put up an eFG% of .489 while allowing opponents to sink shots at a .492 rate.

Bram Kincheloe: Stephen Curry. Without Mike Conley, can the Grizzlies begin to match up at the point guard position?

Conrad Chow: Golden State's biggest advantage is being in the driver's seat. With multiple days of rest, the Warriors undoubtedly have the upper hand and will be ready to push the pace, run the court, and space the floor once again. For a team that led the league in fast-break points in the regular season, the same trend should continue in the post-season.

Jared Stearne: There are a few good options, but let's go with a surprise pick: the front court. The truth is that Golden State's Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut may be the worst possible matchup for the Grizzlies. Green will have no problem following Gasol, a face-up stretch-5, all over the half court. And Bogut is big and strong enough to consistently challenge Zach Randolph in the post.

Jeff Cheal: The Warriors will have the shooting advantage all series long, as they shoot the three light years better than the Grizzlies do. If the Warriors control the pace and get out on the break, the will cause the Grizz to have to play faster and more aggressive, where Memphis prefers to slow down and grind. As we saw in the regular season, with Bogut and Draymond grinding with Gasol and ZBo, the Warriors neutralize the size of the Grizz bigs.

Sam Sorkin: The Warriors' biggest advantage in this series is their small-ball proficiency. Put Draymond Green at center with three wings and Stephen Curry, and that is Golden State's best lineup. They killed the Grizzlies with it in the regular season, and I see no reason that should change, especially with Mike Conley's recent injury.

2. What do you think is your team's biggest disadvantage in this series?

AL: Chippiness. The Warriors play a smart brand of basketball but this group of guys has also never been here before. Yes, most played against the San Antonio Spurs a couple years ago but the Grizz are a different breed. They will look to get into Draymond Green's head and bounce Stephen Curry around quite a bit. The Warriors will have to find a way to handle this smartly.

AF: How often Steve Kerr plays small lineups. Kerr won't be able to get away with small lineups with Marc Gasol and Z-Bo on the floor. That team is built around big lineups, whereas the Warriors' big lineups are almost the secondary option at this point. As a result, Draymond Green's value diminishes in this series.

BJ: Our biggest disadvantage has to be ball control. Memphis values their possessions, averaging 13.3 turnovers per game in the regular season. They've managed to improve on that mark in the playoffs, averaging just 7.6 in their series against the Blazers. Golden State coughed up 14.5 turnovers per game in the season, and 12 per game in the first round.

BK: Size. Gasol and ZBOOOOO are truly monstrous and enjoy throwing their weight around. They'll grit and grind you to a pulp if given the opportunity.

CC: The Warriors must find a way to minimize the Grizzlies' frontcourt in the rebounding department and avoid foul trouble. Marc Gasol's ability to shoot mid-range jumpers will take Andrew Bogut away from protecting the paint at times. Draymond Green's physicality will be tested against Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies can also unleash Kosta Koufos off their bench.

JS: Their own sense of complacency: the Warriors played rather poorly for much of their first four playoff games, against a team lacking an elite defense and coaching staff. Golden State will need to resist the urge to look past the injured Grizzlies, and step it up to beat a team that certainly won't look past the 67-win Warriors.

JC: Marc Gasol is still one of the league's best scoring big men, and even though you have a good match up against him, if he chooses to take over the game we have very little to stop him after Bogut. Long stretches of Festus Ezeli against Kofus and Gasol could be issues if Bogut finds himself in foul trouble. You must keep the Memphis front line off the boards, and this is going to require a complete team effort.

SS: The Warriors' biggest disadvantage against the Grizzlies could be their possible failure to guard Zach Randolph. Draymond is amazing defensively, but he is slightly undersized against Randolph, who loves to play bully-ball in the post and bait his opponents into foul trouble. And if that does indeed happen, Steve Kerr probably doesn't want to see Marreese Speights or (gasp) David Lee on Randolph.

Tomorrow, Part II: Who needs to step up for the Golden State Warriors?

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