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Warriors vs. Grizzlies: Game 2 Preview

The Warriors took care of business in Game 1. Is it Memphis' turn to respond? Or can the Warriors take it to another level?

Never enough high fives for the MVP
Never enough high fives for the MVP
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors haven't lost at home since late January, have yet to lose in the playoffs, and have absolutely handled the Memphis Grizzlies in their last three meetings. You can look at basically any recent trend related to the upcoming game and see why the Warriors are favored to have a 2-0 lead after Tuesday night.

I'd wager that before Game 1 of the series, Memphis stressed that two keys for them to win were to get the Warriors' starting front court in foul trouble and to make it hard for (MVP!!!!) Stephen Curry and (1 Fifth Place MVP Vote!!!!) Klay Thompson to get catches. And they did those two things! The same Draymond Green that was leading the team in minutes last series and matching up one-on-one with the rare Single-Browed Albatross was held to only 27 minutes in Game 1. Andrew Bogut only played 24 minutes, and Marc Gasol was able to pick up 11 points from the line. On the other end of the floor, Tony Allen hounded Thompson, getting in the way of passing lanes like they were children's dance routines. Nick Calathes did an admirable job of sticking to Curry's hip as he wound around screens. The Splash Brothers scored a combined 40 points, slightly below their regular season average.

So, it would seem the Grizzlies executed important parts of their game plan well in Game 1, yet the Warriors were the ones who had control of the whole game. The Warriors played perhaps their most complete game of the playoffs so far. While they were not immune to highlight-seeking turnovers and isolated cases of narcolepsy on back cuts from Memphis guards in the first half, the Warriors' jitters from the first round seem to be dissipating. Maybe those jitters are morphing, evolving into a little thing I like to call composure.

The Warriors know what they need to do to beat the Grizzlies. They need to push the ball in transition. When your opponent's strengths are half court defense and the unique offensive skills of two lumbering bigs, you don't let your opponent set up their half court defense. And, if you can, you make those bigs run back and forth as much as possible. In Game 1, the Warriors pushed off turnovers, misses, and even makes. This is why I expect to see Kerr to repeat his wise decision of giving more minutes to Leandro Barbosa, who thrives in transition. Another thing to look for is even more of Green and Bogut dribbling the ball up the floor. They know that Randolph and Gasol want to get down in the paint as quickly as possible, and what better way to draw them out than by starting the offense with one of the bigs dribbling the ball up the court. I know the idea of Bogut taking the ball up sounds crazy, but it happened multiple times in Game 1.

The Grizzlies are the team that will be looking to make big changes in Game 2. As of my writing this, Mike Conley is out again with, and I think this is the scientific term, a really busted up left facial area. While Calathes and Beno Udrih did a decent combined job on Curry defensively, they cannot run the offense in the same way as Conley, and Conley is one of the only three point threats on the Grizzlies. Joerger may have shown his hand early by playing a lineup without a point guard in the fourth quarter of Game 1. This allows Tony Allen to guard Curry, but leaves the team without a great ball handler. If Curry starts to heat up, we may see some of Jeff Green on him, but Green hasn't jelled with the team offensively, and Curry can just lean on his roll man more. The Warriors will not be afraid to make Randolph work on the defensive end.

Gasol and Randolph will continue to get theirs on the offensive end. It's amazing what the Grizzlies can do while working with a fraction of the space and movement that the Warriors get on offense. However, even if this series becomes Gasol/Randolph v. Curry/Thompson, the advantage heavily leans towards the Warriors duo. I keep seeing stats about how Curry and Thompson are shooting more threes in the playoffs than the entire Memphis roster; they are bringing long range missiles to a knife fight.

What struck me the most from Game 1 is that the Warriors are not intimidated by the Grizzlies at all. The Grizzlies pride themselves in getting under the skin of their opponents over the course of a playoff series, but already Green has remarked that Game 1 was not as physical as he expected.

The bottom line is that the Warriors are confident right now, and they have every right to be. What if the Warriors do a better job of limiting Memphis' bigs? What if Curry or Thompson have a huge quarter? What if Joerger's lineup tinkering doesn't work out? What if the Tuesday night Oracle crowd is even more raucous than the Sunday afternoon crowd? Game 1 was a solid win. Game 2 could be a beatdown.

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