It’s three games into the season, and the Warriors are still looking for their first win. The media and the fans are rumbling at the terrible play they’ve witnessed in the first two games, and if it continues into this game, at home against the woeful Grizzlies, that rumble will start growing into a roar. It already feels like the Warriors are playing for something significant.
Unfortunately, this Memphis Grizzlies team is no pushover. They match up very well against the Warriors, as a simple look at last year’s results will tell you. The Grizzlies swept the Warriors last year, going 3-0, with two of those wins in the Oracle. And this year’s team, with the additions of proven scorers Zach Randolph and Allen Iverson, will be tougher.
The Warriors will take the floor with a new lineup: Stephen Jackson will be playing power forward, Kelenna Azubuike will be moved into the starting lineup at small forward, and Anthony Randolph will be backing up Biedrins at center in the absence of Rony Turiaf. Obviously, with this new lineup, this game will devolve into a classic Nellie chess match of mismatches.
The Grizzlies lineup will present several matchup problems for the Warriors. The most painful, I’m guessing, will be Monta on OJ Mayo. The most intriguing will be Jackson trying to guard Zach Randolph in the post. This will be a litmus test of just how committed Jackson is to playing hard for the Warriors this season. Biedrins has sometimes struggled against big centers, and he’ll be trying to root the gargantuan Marc Gasol out of the lane. And Azubuike will have his hands full trying to guard Rudy Gay. Only Curry has a reasonable matchup: after getting schooled by Nash, our rookie will hopefully get a breather guarding Mike Conley.
The key to the Warriors success will be whether they can create a worse matchup problem for the Grizzlies on the other side of the ball. Obviously, by playing Jackson at the 4, Nellie is going to try to ignite the Warriors fast break and run the bigger Grizzlies off the court. In the half-court I would expect Jackson to get the ball a lot more than he has in the first two games: Nellie will force Zach Randolph to prove he can guard Jack on the perimeter. Monta Ellis will also be key, obviously. He has to torture Mayo more than Mayo is sure to torture him.
The line on this game is Warriors -6. After watching the Warriors play the first two games, I’m throwing up my hands. There is no predicting how they’ll play. Pick your poison.