Tonight, 7:30 p.m., CSN Bay Area
Opponent: Memphis Grizzlies
Points scored: 107.8
Points allowed: 115.8
Probable starting lineup
PG-Mike Conley (9.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists)
SG-O.J. Mayo (22.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists)
SF-Rudy Gay (18 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals)
PF-Zach Randolph (21.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists)
C-Marc Gasol (19.0 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks)
Key reserves: G Allen Iverson (11.0 points), F DeMarre Carroll (4.5 points, 3.8 rebounds), G Marcus Williams (6.3 points, 2.3 assists)
Here’s a look at what a rival scout reported about the Grizzlies in Sports Illustrated’s NBA preview:
Allen Iverson will not be a good influence on their young players for three reasons – his off-court demeanor, his work habits and his need to have the ball in his hands. … O.J. Mayo has an Iverson mentality: If you don’t score once or twice when I pass you the ball, then I’m going to keep it because I know I can score. … Zach Randolph hasn’t been consistent since he was in Portland and Rasheed Wallace was there, staying on his butt. He’s extremely talented, but when he’s screwing up, what do you tell your young guys. … Their decision to draft Hasheem Thabeet with the No. 2 pick will haunt them. His biggest problems are on offense, but I don’t think he has the anticipation that he needs defensively. He gets compared with Dikembe Mutombo, but Thabeet looks more like Manute Bol—you bring the shot to him and he’ll block it, but he won’t go somewhere to block it. … I think Rudy Gay can be an All-Star if he gets on an established team. Send him to the Rockets for Tracy McGrady and – even though he’s not as good as Tracy – they’d win just as many games. … I wasn’t sold on Mike Conley his rookie year, but he improved his three-point shot, and he’s so fast with the ball.
The Warriors are off to an 0-2 start, which doesn’t look good if you were expecting a team that will challenge for a playoff spot or at least a .500 record this season. However, looking back at their two losses, it’s clear that at least in the early part of this season, the Rockets are no pushover. They’ve given several teams trouble, beating Portland and Utah in addition to Golden State. So, a one-point loss doesn’t look as bad to that team as it did initially. And Phoenix, which blasted the Warriors on the road in the second game of the season, is 4-0 and beat Dwyane Wade and the Heat on Tuesday night, the Heat’s first loss of the season. Let’s not take away the issues that have popped up in the Warriors’ first two losses. They’re still poor defensively and an offense trying to find itself and develop some chemistry. But, their 0-2 record looks a little different now that the season’s first week has played itself out.
This isn’t a must-win (I read some headlines claiming it to be), because there are still 79 games left after this one. But a loss at home to the Grizzlies would be embarrassing. One of the most important things to see during tonight’s game is if the Warriors can play well enough to turn Oracle Arena into a difficult place for road teams to get wins. If the Warriors really want to improve this season, they need to build on a slightly better than mediocre performance at home last season, when they went 21-20. The Warriors need to win at least 60 percent of their games at home this season to accomplish their goals, because considering their youth and other issues, the road could be inhospitable.
If the Warriors get a win tonight, they’re 1-2 and looking at a nice stretch where they could build some confidence. The following six games after tonight are against the Clippers (1-4), Kings (1-3), Timberwolves (1-3), Pacers (0-3), Knicks (1-3) and Bucks (1-2).
KEYS TO THE GAME
Crash the boards: Something to watch tonight is if the Warriors’ new lineup can keep their taller Grizzlies counterparts off the offensive boards. Randolph averages 4.8 offensive rebounds, Gasol 3.5, and Mayo and Gay both grab more than one per game. Randolph, Gasol, Mayo and Gay all have size advantages against the Warriors assigned to guard them. So the Warriors must box out aggressively and keep the second-chance points to a minimum.
Pinpoint mismatches: The Grizzlies have the size advantage, but the Warriors have mismatches they can exploit as well. Monta Ellis should be able to use his speed against Mayo, Stephen Jackson can bring Randolph out on the perimeter where he’s not comfortable, and Kelenna Azubuike can stretch the Grizzlies defense with his 3-point shooting, keeping the lanes open for Ellis and Co. In addition, the Warriors should enjoy a noticeable bench advantage. The Grizzlies have an unhappy Iverson coming off the bench, but not much else. The Warriors can throw Anthony Randolph, Anthony Morrow and Corey Maggette out there. Golden State needs to take advantage where they have mismatches.
Prediction: Warriors 107, Grizzlies 101