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Preview: Warriors look to even up season series against Grizzlies

Memphis is one of two teams that have beaten Golden State twice in the regular season in the last two years.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Golden State Warriors (58-14) vs Memphis Grizzlies (40-32)

Date: Sunday March 26th, 2017

Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

Time: 8:00 pm EST | 5:00 pm PST

TV: CSN Bay Area

Radio: 95.7 The Game

Blog buddy: Grizzly Bear Blues

The Golden State Warriors face the Memphis Grizzlies for the fourth and final time this season and will look even the season series, as they have lost two of their past three encounters.

The first game was an 89-110 loss on December 10th in Memphis and was one of just four times the Warriors failed to register 90 points. This was the Warriors’ first game after losing starter Zaza Pachulia to a hand injury, and they started Anderson Varejao, which would be his only start of the season.

The Warriors lost the rematch in Oracle on January 6th, 119-128, as the Grizzlies scored 49 to the Warriors 21 in the fourth quarter plus overtime. The game produced much hand-wringing and scrutiny, not just over the 24-point lead blown at home, but also because of an outlandish argument between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. The immediate “sky-is-falling” reaction was wrong then, and looked even more overblown after the Warriors flawlessly executed their toughest week of the season to date with games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder in the span of six days.

The Warriors finally claimed victory on February 10th in Memphis, scoring 122 points to the Grizzlies 107, behind 36 points from Klay Thompson and a rare triple-double with no points from Draymond Green. The Warriors were also short David West and Zaza Pachulia, and started Javale McGee.

This upcoming matchup is of particular interest for the continued seeding implications for Memphis and Golden State, but most importantly as a primer to a very difficult week for the Warriors. From Sunday to Sunday, the Warriors will face the Grizzlies, the Rockets (twice), the Spurs, and the Wizards; all talented playoff teams that have defeated the Warriors at least once this season.

Moreover, the Warriors face the Rockets for the second time this week on the second night of a back-to-back agains the Spurs. With Kevin Durant’s return hinging on a four-week re-evaluation set to occur next Thursday, the Warriors must find a way to continue their positive momentum from the last six games into the next five games.

A potential respite for the Warriors in regards to the Grizzlies game is Marc Gasol’s questionable status heading into the Sunday game. Gasol has played an important role in the past three contests between the teams, and the Warriors one win came in no small part due to limiting the center to 17 points on 28.6 percent shooting.

Things to watch for:

  1. The Point Guard Matchup - Stephen Curry vs. Mike Conley is a battle of two point guards with very different play styles. Where Steph captures the imagination with brilliant expressions of ball-handling, shooting and play-making, Conley is sublime in his subtleties and his steadiness. Both players will relish the opportunity this matchup provides and expect driven performances from both.
  2. Defensive Streak - Since the March 16th win against the Orlando Magic, the Warriors have held five straight opponents to 100 points or less. The Warriors have given up 111 to the Grizzlies in four quarters in the losses, while holding them to 107 in the sole win. While points allowed is a meaningless stat in a vacuum, expect the Warriors to still aim for that “mental milestone” of 100 or so, which should be easier to achieve if Gasol is indeed sitting out.
  3. Klay’s bounce back game? - Excluding his last outing against the Sacramento Kings, Klay Thompson has averaged 27 points per game on 55 percent shooting and a scorching 53 percent from beyond the arc during the Warriors’ winning streak. Thompson failed to register double-digits for just the second time this season against the Kings. While Tony Allen is an all-league perimeter defender, expect Klay to find ways to score other than the three-point shot, specifically from cuts to the rim and mid-range jumpers.

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