How the Warriors Can Strike Down the Grizzlies
*Photo via Knbr
The 5-seeded Memphis Grizzlies versus the leagues best Golden State Warriors looks to be the most intriguing second round match up in the Western Conference. Beginning Sunday, May 3rd the Warriors will look to defend their regular season crown and continue their quest for the Larry O’Brien Trophy with this Western Conference semi-final match up. Yet to move on, the Warriors must follow these keys to beat a gritty Memphis team:
1. Draymond Green
In his breakout year, Green has become one of the most versatile defenders in the league, finishing 2nd for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, and is capable of being a threat offensively inside and out. Yet, he faces a proven, hardnosed block player against Memphis in Zach Randolph. Look for the Warriors to feature Green offensively early to put pressure on tough Memphis frontcourt.
If Green can body Randolph while staying out of foul trouble, the Warriors will be in good shape. In the Warriors’ March 27th 23-point victory against the Grizzlies, Green held Z-Bo to just 10 points and three rebounds. A replication of this performance would take the Grizzlies out of their slow-paced, half court game and favor the Warriors up-tempo play.
2. Inside Defense
Going against the best big man tandem in the league, it is essential that Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green do not take a break on the defensive end of the court. From entry passes to broken plays, the Warriors interior defense must be vigilant because the Grizzlies frontcourt is constantly active and relentless. Also, with Mike Conley out at least the first two games of the series, Memphis’ offense will be more pressed to run through their big men and rely on their playmaking abilities.
When the Grizzlies get second chance opportunities they could be nearly unstoppable. Offensive rebounds allow the Grizzlies to slow down the game and wear down their opponent’s frontcourt. Expect the Warriors to emphasize team rebounding in order to prevent the Grizzlies from getting into a rhythm offensively and impose their will on the game by pushing the ball.
The first three keys for the Warriors culminate with this. If Golden State allows Memphis to beat them inside and pace the game, the series will favor their opponent. Yet, if the Warriors inside play matches the Grizzlies, like we saw in their two victories over them this season, the Warriors will win this series. By taking away Memphis’ advantage inside, the Warriors will take the game to the perimeter- where they have a pretty good track record.
This is the most obvious and easiest key for Golden State, this has been their key to victory all year. Everyone saw the Splash Brothers get it done all season, now this time they are tested by a true contender in the Memphis Grizzlies in what should be a long, tough series. There’s no doubt Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will put up numbers, but will hit big time shots in the fourth quarter to send a playoff-tested Grizzlies team packing?
The Warriors favorite to win this series but after a long break they must take advantage of their home court and win the first two. If Memphis can steal one from the Warriors this series will be longer and may play in favor of a Memphis team waiting for Mike Conley’s return.