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Preview: Warriors host defensive-minded Grizzlies

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Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala may play with their status changed to “questionable.”

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors

Fresh off their thrilling road victory over the Sacramento Kings, the Golden State Warriors are back home to host a familiar foe: the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies are one of those teams that I somehow manage to like and dislike at the same time. Led by affable stars Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, the Grizzlies are a “grit and grind” team through and through. They don’t appear at the top of any rankings but are reliably solid because of their defense. Their offense, however, can be generously described as “hard to watch.”

The Warriors are neither hard to watch, nor irrelevant to the top of the NBA — but their inconsistant play may open the door to a loss against the Grizzlies if they aren’t mindful.

Game Details

WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies

WHEN: Monday, December 17; 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

WATCH: NBCSBA, NBA TV

WRADIO: 95.7 The Game

Hampered by persistent injuries and inept management, the Griz continue to flounder

Just a few years ago, the Grizzlies were one of the elite Western Conference teams. With a core of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen they historically tormented some of the top teams in the league. But that’s all in the old, dusty past... of like five or six years ago.

Now? Most of those players mentioned above are gone (and/or declined to irrelevance), leaving Gasol and Conley standing alone amongst a sea of good but not great Memphis players. It’s a sad tale that would be written differently if not for all the injuries, but one that features an end result long-suffering Warriors fans know all too well. The Grizzlies are stuck in that sisyphean cycle of trying to climb back out of the middle tier of NBA teams, while not being quite bad enough to land the high draft picks that would lift them up.

Instead, their biggest free agent acquisition in years, Chandler Parsons, wallows through a career decimated by injuries. It will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his struggles that Parsons will miss tonight’s game due to knee soreness.

The Grizzlies hang their hats on their defense — they’re third in blocks, sixth in steals and have the sixth best overall defense so far this season, according to NBA.com stats. Not bad, but the question (as always) will be if they can slow the Warriors down enough for their frangible offense to keep pace— because this Memphis offense is bad... like bottom of the NBA bad.

The Griz aren’t going to outshoot anyone.. which probably means they’re about to hit 45 threes against us

Warriors still atop the NBA power structure, despite injuries and inconsistent play

The Warriors have senioritis. On paper, this team should be punching through the opposition like Bruce Lee fighting a bunch of wet paper bags. Instead, we vacillate between dominant and docile. They are basically the NBA equivalent of One Punch Man, an anime where the main protagonist is so extremely overpowered that he’s grown bored by the absence of challenge.

Still, the Warriors are ready to uncork an epic beatdown at any point. After blowing a 16 point lead against the Sacramento Kings and finding themselves down double digits in the waning moments, they finished on a 17-2 run for the win. It was an all too familiar feeling for Warriors fans — old school fans recall watching the team melt down and lose a game in less than three minutes, and those with more recency bias will bemoan the fact that the team let a lead slip so badly.

Regardless of how much better you may think they can play, it’s worth noting that in spite of key starters missing large swaths of games, the Warriors are essentially tied with the Denver Nuggets for the top seed in the West. A win at home against the Grizzlies won’t change much, but remember that a win now counts just as much as a win in late April as the season closes.

Will Livingston and Iguodala play?

The Warriors updated the status of both players yesterday afternoon, changing Shaun Livingston out of his previous “out” status” and upgrading Andre Iguodala’s “questionable” status.

We’ll see later today what the team gives these two players as far as their official status, but Anthony Slater seems to think both may very well return tonight.

Prediction

These were some insanely cheap tickets (I scooped up mine for just 57 dollars!) so I expect a full house of rowdy fans.

Warriors 105 - Grizz 89