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Golden State at Memphis, Game 6 Preview: The Warriors look to close out the Grizzlies at the Grindhouse

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So far this has been an emotional series for all parties involved. The losing team has generally been very disappointing, while the winning team has been excessively dominant. Tonight's game will be the first elimination game: the Grizzlies will be desperate, and driven by a raucous crowd. Can the Warriors rise to the challenge, and end it in 6?

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

  • The Black Falcon - Harrison Barnes. The Warrior Wonder of the series so far? Has he made the fewest mistakes of any Warrior so far? Grabbing boards in the face of one of the better rebounding teams in the league, driving to the rack with relentless fury, draining 3's from the corners (and stretching the floor --and his groin-- in the process), all the while playing solid defense despite some unusual and tough assignments.
  • Ron Adams' Game 4 defensive adjustment: let Tony Allen shoot all day, and have Andrew Bogut patrolling the paint - what he does best (as opposed to guarding Zach Randolph's midrange). Barnes steps up with some post defense on Z-Bo, and the team helps with doubles and switches. To say that this adjustment alone won game 4 is a bit absurd and results oriented. Jeff Van Gundy was just on a Zach Lowe podcast and pretty much said as much - he believes the Warriors win that game handily without the adjustment. That's also good?
  • Klay Thompson unshackled? Klaystation3 rebooted? Tony Allen was listed as probable, now questionable for this game. If he does play, he will unlikely be at 100%, due to an ailing hamstring.
  • Stephen Curry cooking again: his usual batch of off-the-dribble and step back 3s that go down oh so smooth! While Steve Kerr's analytic side is still probably wincing, his heart is probably warm and fuzzy.
  • David Lee is finally getting some deserved playing time, and is bringing some quality energy off the bench. Andre Iguodala has been in rhythm; his usual swiss-army-knife self. Shaun Livingston's defense has been impressive. Festus Ezeli is providing good backup minutes to Bogut. This is a testament to how good the coaching staff is, as well as stellar team chemistry (and obviously the players' talent and effort).
  • Vegas has the Warriors as 5 point favorites.
  • Still another gear? Maybe it's too perfectionist to see it this way, but it doesn't look like these Warriors have hit their peak yet, in any playoff game.

The Bad

  • Over-the-shoulder and skip passes. Memphis is obviously a great defensive team. They regularly discombobulate opposing offenses, taking away their primary (and secondary) option(s). Stephen Curry has to work harder to find open teammates, and as a result often throws dangerous skip passes and over-the-shoulder passes after reaching a dead-end in traffic. These lead to more turnovers than easy points, and will likely be something the team highlights while looking at film.
  • While there are moments of good defensive rebounding for the Warriors, there are plenty of possessions that either end in poor boxouts, and/or Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol setting up shop under the rim, with seemingly endless possibilities for put-backs. Cringeworthy.
  • This is the first elimination game for the Grizzlies, so a potentially desperate and scrappy squad awaits in Memphis. The Grindhouse and their fans will surely be ready with fierce energy.


The Ugly

  • Klay Thompson's midrange game is still off: is this residue from Tony Allen's first-team-all-defense spray? Klay shot 4/12 not counting his 3's last game.
  • Dominant wins, rarely neck-and-neck games. Many possessions leave you shaking your head after a defense reduces an offense to a state of exasperation. These defense are certainly elite, and force you to appreciate the game in a different way.
  • The Black Falcon doing the splits (or is this beautiful?). That's one limber young man - at first sight, looked like he might miss some time with a groin tear. Harrison gets another mention in this section for some of his missed dunk attempts: these were not easy dunks by any means, but to go from play-of-the-night to dud-of-the-night in a split second, is bound to leave fans with a painful ache.
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Last game, David Joerger was spared having to concoct a retaliatory adjustment to Ron Adams' crafty move. With Tony Allen out, the conservative choice was to slot Jeff Green into the starting lineup, and pray that his shooting would be enough to draw Bogut back out of the paint.

Now with Tony Allen active again (maybe?), the Warriors may have to react to some David Joerger adjustments. It's doubtful that Joerger wants to encourage any kind of repeat performance of Game 4. Due to the versatility and depth of this Warriors team, potential adjustments seem rather limited and bleak. Getting Draymond Green in foul trouble might open up some interesting strategies, but that's a tough contingency to depend on. Even though the Grizzlies can ratchet up the physical intensity, the Warriors are probably expecting it and prepared for it.

In case you haven't listened to it already, be sure to check out James Opferman, Andy Liu, and Joe Mullinax here. I'm about to start listening to them now - always entertaining and insightful. Thanks guys!

To wrap up this disjointed preview, here's a look at the latest development from Swagzeli himself (Festus Ezeli):