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Memphis Grizzlies vs Golden State Warriors
Time: 7:00 CST
Place: FedExForum, Memphis, TN
Records: Memphis (17-14), Golden State (11-16)

Expected Starting Lineups:
Memphis – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Marreese Speights, Marc Gasol
Golden State – Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Dorrell Wright, David Lee, Andris Biedrins

Good teams find ways to win games. Bad teams find ways to lose games. This is true in all sports, but especially so in the NBA, where every team is not only capable of making a run, but is expected to do so at once per game.

Last night, the Grizzlies established a big lead and then saw it evaporate as the Nuggets came storming back (as we all thought they would). But — and this is the key difference between the Grizzlies of now versus the team we saw during that losing streak — they didn’t throw in the towel and give up. They battled and fought tooth-and-nail until the clock hit triple zeroes and the scoreboard showed them as the victors.

Why is this so important? Because the Golden State Warriors are in town tonight and this is what happened the last time these two teams tangled:

That’s right — one team had a big lead, only to lose it….and then lose the game. Don’t think that the Warriors have forgotten that meeting either.

Memphis has won 5 of their last 6 games, putting them back into the playoff picture once again. One of the more interesting aspects to last night’s game (to me anyways) was the shortened rotation that Lionel Hollins used. No Quincy Pondexter, Hamed Haddadi or Sam Young in this one, as he went with an 8-man rotation that saw Jeremy Pargo get just under 9 minutes of play and Dante Cunningham (game saviour) play just under 16 minutes. While I appreciate the talents of the three aforementioned players who didn’t get into the game last night, I like the idea of a shorter rotation even more. We’ll see if this continues going forward — especially as the back-to-back games start to stack up once again.

Golden State is coming off of a loss in Oklahoma City last night, so this will be their second road game in as many nights. That’s always tough, but especially so since the Warriors will play 7 of their next 8 on the road, spanning the All-Star break. Too add to that difficulty, their backcourt duo of Curry and Ellis haven’t exactly been lighting it up lately either. Curry has scored 42 points total in the 4 games since his 36-point outing against Denver just over a week ago. Ellis banged his right knee last night, and sat out the entire 4th quarter for the second game in a row. When asked about his struggling teammates, David Lee had this to say:

“I’m sure they’ll play great (Saturday) night. They will both have 30 and we will be talking about it.”

Ummm….yeah David. Whatever you say.

For the Grizzlies to win this game, they need to do exactly what they did in the first half against Denver: play fluid, team basketball on offense, crash the boards, scramble for every loose ball, and stick to their assignments on defense. It’s a simple strategy that requires discipline and hustle more than talent and skill. Want to know why Denver got back into that game? Because guys like Kenneth Faried and Chris Andersen outhustled them, and guys like Corey Brewer took advantage of lazy defensive attention. That cannot happen a second night in a row.

For the Warriors to win this game, they will have to find someone capable of guarding Rudy Gay. Easier said than done, obviously, but he’s the guy that killed them last time — and he’ll gladly do it again if they let him. They’ll need to crash the boards relentlessly in order to generate some much-needed second-chance points, too. Expect to see them overplay the passing lanes in the hopes of getting some easy transition buckets, too.

Prediction: Memphis wins, going away.

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