After tonight’s game, the Golden State Warriors will do one of two things. They’ll either pack up their bags and clear out of Chase Center for the final time, or they’ll hop on a plane and jet to Salt Lake City.
It’s the most exciting thing in sports: win and advance, or lose and go home. Or stay home, as the case may be for the Dubs.
Who: Golden State Warriors (39-34) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (39-34)
When: 6:00 p.m. PT
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California
TV: ESPN (available on fuboTV)
Projected starting lineups:
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kent Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Grizzlies: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valančiūnas
Warriors: Lost to the Lakers 103-100 — 4-1 in their last 5 games
Grizzlies: Beat the Spurs 100-96 — 4-1 in their last 5 games
Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):
Warriors: 111.0 offense (21st), 110.6 defense (5th), +0.4 net (15th)
Grizzlies: 112.2 offense (16th), 111.6 defense (7th), +0.6 net (14th)
You know the story. You don’t need me to tell you the story. The Warriors and Grizzlies played on Sunday to determine the play-in round seeding. And now they meet again to determine who moves on to the playoffs.
If the Warriors repeat their Sunday performance, they’re in the playoffs and face the Utah Jazz in an honest-to-goodness seven-game series.
If the Warriors don’t repeat their Sunday performance, the season is over.
It’s that simple.
Players to watch
Warrior to watch: Draymond Green.
Green ruffled some feathers after Sunday’s game when he publicly dissed Memphis for playing Jonas Valančiūnas, despite the center having 29 points on 12-for-15 shooting.
But make no mistake: as good as Valančiūnas and Ja Morant have been this year, Green is the second-best player out there. He can win the game with his defense. He can win the game with his playmaking. He can win the game with his toughness, leadership, and intangibles.
I’d be fine with any and all of those things, personally.
Grizzly to watch: Jonas Valančiūnas.
Morant may be the Memphis player who gets the most press and has the most highlights, but there’s a strong case to be made that Valančiūnas was their best player this season. He’s a solid defender, a strong offensive presence in the post, a rebounding force, and a player with an under-appreciated ability to hit threes and switch onto smaller players.
He’s also a traditional center who can be played off the court by, among other players, Green.
Matchup to watch: Steph Curry vs. Dillon Brooks.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Curry is the best player in this game. But when the two teams played on Sunday, Brooks played some of the best defense on Curry that we’ve seen all year.
Steph still dropped in 46, but he did need 36 shots to get there, and turned the ball over 7 times. Watching Brooks defend Curry will be a treat, and one of the most important elements of the game.
Keys to victory
- 35+ points on solid efficiency for Steph Curry
- Run Jonas Valančiūnas off the court
- Limit fouls, and don’t let the Grizzlies live at the free throw
Get. It. Done.