When: Saturday, December 7th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
So last time our Grizz squared off against the Warriors, it was against a lineup that forced Andre Iguodala into the starting point guard role. On our side of the coin, Tony Allen was out on league suspension for delivering a shin to Chris Paul’s face. This time, Iggy’s out, Marc’s dealing with his knee, Ed Davis has a rolled ankle, and Tony Allen a bruised hip. Healthy or unhealthy, full or half strength, however, it’s always barrels of fun when these teams collide. The last one went into OT, in a grinder where the Grizzlies pulled away scoring just 88 points in 53 minutes. Both teams enter this one coming off of brutal defeats at the hands of the Clippers and Rockets, respectively.
Expected Starting Lineups:
Mike Conley vs Stephen Curry
Great battle on deck, at this spot. Currently standing at the 2 and 3 ranks in player efficiency rating among point guards, these are hands down two of my favorite point guards to watch in action. While Conley has been fantastic and I’m as much a homer as it gets, I cannot pick against the perpetually scorching hot Curry, who has averaged nearly 30 ppg over his last five.
Advantage: Golden State
Tony Allen vs Klay Thompson
So nursing his bruised hip, there is no word yet on whether Tony Allen will play against the Warriors tonight. As I mentioned earlier, he missed the last meeting due to his suspension, and it showed as the guy who would have been his draw, Klay Thompson, went off for 21. Allen’s defense is is sincerely welcomed against a matchup like the Splash Bros., and he’ll likely get the assignment of Klay in the first half, switching over to Steph in the second. If Allen does not play, it’s going to be a long night for Memphis.
Advantage: Golden State
Tayshaun Prince vs Harrison Barnes
The Tayshaun Prince revival game is what I like to refer to the last match between these teams as. Prince displayed a confidence in his shooting ability last time they met, which was previously unseen on the whole of the year. He also managed to come up huge at the end of the game, where his intangible strengths and composure kicked in. Harrison Barnes could potentially be a very tough draw for Tayshaun. It took him a while, but the second year forward admirably known as the “Black Falcon” has settled in nicely to the role that he thought was going to be his before the Warriors pulled through on a hot pursuit of Andre Iguodala (who remains sidelined with a hamstring injury). Barnes is a threat to do just about anything out there, and while he’s looked better lately, I’m not anticipating another outburst from Tayshaun.
Advantage: Golden State
Zach Randolph vs David Lee
Finally, one that seems to favor the good guys! The last time these two duked it out, Zbo was held to a relatively quiet first half by David Lee. Only Lee may have done himself a disservice by apparently proving competently hold him in the first, as his teammates left him on an island guarding Randolph, in the latter half of the game. The result? Ultimately a 21 point 12 rebound gem that looked promising to help build some momentum.
Kosta Koufos vs Andrew Bogut
The Warriors may be fighting off the ill-effects of the unforgiving grind of a back-to-back, but thanks to a case of “Holy foul trouble, Batman,” Andrew Bogut should have the freshest legs in their starting lineup, after playing just 18 minutes last night. He’s never quite lived up to #1 overall pick billing, but will block a ton of shots while anchoring the post. However, I’m going to put myself out on a limb, here, and extend the favor to Kosta Koufos, tonight, who has been on a roll since stepping in for the injured Marc Gasol at the center slot. 2K was the team’s leading scorer last time out, and has been a rebound-a-holic as the team’s starting center, averaging 11.6 boards per contest. If he could ever get into a rhythm where he establishes any degree of touch around the basket, the Grizz should be in good shape for the time being, even without Gasol in the mix.
Quincy Pondexter has put up decent numbers in his past two games (which were punctuated in the middle by a message-sending DNP), but I’m not sold on him having played better just yet. The Quincy I’ve known to grow to love last season and prior was one who made the right plays, hit some corner threes, and maintained within the flow of the offense. This year’s Quincy seems to be doing his best Rudy Gay impression, pounding the ball into submission and trying to turn every possession that he gets into a few points for himself. The rest of the Grizzlies’ bench will be up in the air until we hear what’s going on with the Grindfather’s hip and Ed Davis’s ankle, but the “next man up” philosophy has been solid at work so far, here. The Warriors bench has been similarly weakened by having to bump Barnes into the starting lineup, along with an injury to the backup point guard Toney Douglas.