PBT Second-Round Playoff Previews: Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies

3 Comments

SEASON RECORDS

Golden State Warriors: 67-15

Memphis Grizzlies: 55-27

KEY INJURIES

Golden State Warriors: none

Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley (face)

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possession)

Golden State Warriors: Offense 109.7 (4th in NBA), Defense 98.2 (1st in NBA)

Memphis Grizzlies: Offense 103.1 (13th in NBA), Defense 99.9 (4th in NBA)

THREE KEYS TO THE SERIES

1) How healthy is Mike Conley?

The Grizzlies point guard, who’s expected to miss at least Game 1, is very good and very important to Memphis.

He penetrates well, gets the defense moving and then makes the right pass. He’s also a good 3-point shooter on a team lacking for those. Best of all, he executes well in a slow pace that probably favors the defense.

Plus, he’s a superb defender who makes life easier for the bigs behind him. (Though it’s possible nobody can defend Stephen Curry, anyway).

Even while dismantling the Trail Blazers in five games, Memphis outscored them by just two points in 161 minutes without Conley (and 32 in 79 minutes with him).

Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes are underrated backups, and both had their moments against the Trail Blazers. But besting low expectations is not nearly enough against Golden State.

The Grizzlies need their near-All-Star point guard.

2) Can the Grizzlies post-up – without getting burned on the other end?

The Grizzlies led the NBA in points scored on post-ups by featuring Zach Randolph (fourth in post-up points per game) and Marc Gasol (sixth).

But the Warriors have two of the league’s better post defenders in Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut.

It should be a fun matchup between those pairings when Memphis has the ball.

However, merely winning the battle is not nearly enough for the Grizzlies. They also need to keep up with Bogut and Gasol on the other end.

Few players capable of handling Randolph and Gasol in the post also possess such offensive versatility. Green hits open 3-pointers well enough that his defender should get pulled outside, and Bogut passes well from the high post. They help the Warriors create a ton of space, and Memphis’ bigs – looking at you, Randolph – will have to show plenty of agility to keep up.

3) Can the Warriors play slowly (and will we even find out)?

Golden State played at the NBA’s second-fastest pace this season. Memphis, on the other hand, played at the second-slowest pace among playoff teams.

The Grizzlies will probably try to slow the tempo, but even if they do, the Warriors should be fine.

Golden State has won all its games played at or below Memphis season-long pace mark, per Nylon Calculus possession stats. But that’s just four games, a very small sample – which is telling.

The Warriors excel at setting the tone. The slowest pace among playoff teams this season? The Pelicans, whom Golden State swept, though that series was the slowest of the first round.

The Grizzlies might be better at deliberately slowing the pace than New Orleans, but probably not good enough – and even if they are, it probably won’t matter.

PREDICTION

The Warriors are better, healthier and more rested. They can match Memphis preferred style and then unleash their own machinations.

If Conley were healthy, I’d give the Grizzlies another game. Alas:

Warriors in 4.

Kawhi Leonard just destroyed Boston’s Daniel Theis on dunk

Leave a comment

Daniel Theis‘ play as a rim protector is one of the reasons Boston has a top-10 defense this season. He has anchored the Celtics’ defense in the paint.

Kawhi Leonard is a two-time Finals MVP, and if he wants to go to the rim nobody is stopping him. Theis found out the hard way.

After the game, Leonard was asked about the dunk and he responded in about the most Kawhi way possible.

This was the first game Leonard and Paul George played together and they combined for 42 points, and they both made key play down the stretch of a 107-104 overtime win.

It took Luka Doncic 25 minutes to put together 35-point triple-double (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic scored 33 of his 35 points in the first half and had yet another triple-double to help the Dallas Mavericks rout the short-handed Golden State Warriors 142-94 on Wednesday night.

Doncic fell a point short of matching Dirk Nowitzki’s team record set Nov. 3, 2009, against Utah. In just 17 minutes, Doncic was 10 for 11 from the floor, making 6 of 7 3-pointers, and hit 7 of 8 free throws.

The second-year star from Slovenia had 22 points, five assists and five rebounds in the first quarter alone. He played only 25 minutes total, but still managed 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

Doncic was coming off a 40-point triple-double Monday night against San Antonio, and has an NBA-best seven triple-doubles in 14 games this season.

The Mavericks never trailed and tied a franchise record with 22 3-pointers while sending Golden State to its worst loss since a 1973 playoff game.

The Warriors, who ended a seven-game losing streak by beating Memphis on Tuesday night, are an NBA-worst 3-13. Their five-year run of at the top of the NBA has collapsed under a weight of injuries, with Draymond Green out Wednesday because of right heel soreness.

With Green out, Golden State dressed only eight players, none of whom suited up for the team last season when it made the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive year.

Eric Paschall led the Warriors with 22 points.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 for Dallas. Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth-straight double-double.

 

Bulls’ Otto Porter Jr out 2 weeks with bone bruise in foot

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls say forward Otto Porter Jr. has a bone bruise in his left foot and will be reassessed in two weeks.

The Bulls say a second MRI on Tuesday revealed the bruise, something “not apparent” on the first MRI.

“He had a second scan, and something showed up that didn’t show up on the first scan,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen told NBC Sports Chicago. “That’s tough, tough for him, feel bad for him. But we’ll treat him and move on.”

Chandler Hutchison had been filling in Porter’s spot in the rotation, but he is out indefinitely now with sore shins.

Porter, averaging 11.2 points in nine games, has been sidelined since he sprained his left foot at Atlanta on Nov. 6.

The Bulls were 4-10 with three straight losses heading into Wednesday’s game against Detroit.

Timberwolves’ new alternate uniforms resemble Minneapolis Lakers

AP Photo/Jim Mone
2 Comments

The Minneapolis Lakers’ history belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s why the Los Angeles Lakers claim the five championships the franchise won in Minneapolis and have worn light-blue Minneapolis throwbacks.

But Minnesota’s current NBA team – the Timberwolves – appear to be borrowing from that legacy.

The Timberwolves’ new alternate uniforms look awfully similar to the Minneapolis Lakers’ throwback:

Of course, the Timberwolves’ explanation contains no mention of the Minneapolis Lakers. The Timberwolves say the icy cool yet sky blue color … reflects the blue waters that are ubiquitous throughout the cities, namely the Mississippi River, which is outlined on the left side of the uniform.” It’s all about celebrating the Twin Cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul (MSP).

The best part: These alternates are officially branded as “City Edition” uniforms. The Timberwolves called theirs “Cities Edition.”