Curry and Morant: The Warriors and Grizzlies both have a lot of players, a lot of depth, and a lot of drive, which should make for an exciting semifinal matchup.
For the second consecutive year, the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies will face off to determine each other’s playoff fortunes. The context has changed completely, though.
Last year, the Warriors and Grizzlies met in the NBA Play-In Tournament. While Stephen Curry and Draymond Green carried the Warriors in the absence of Klay Thompson and a youthful and inexperienced squad, the Grizzlies were keen to show that they should be taken seriously. The landscape has already shifted as both clubs prepare for a semifinal meeting a year later.
The Grizzlies visit the Warriors in Game 1
As a legitimate title contender, the Grizzlies visit the Warriors in Game 1 on Sunday (3:30 ET on ABC). Though it took the Grizzlies six games to knock out the seventh-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, the Grizzlies have a solid combination of young talent with exceptional maturity, featuring two explosive scorers and playmakers (Ja Morant, Desmond Bane) and a Defensive Player of the Year contender (Jaren Jackson Jr.).
The Warriors, on the other hand, have the same cast that has helped them win three NBA championships in five Finals appearances. Curry and Morant: They have perhaps the greatest shooter in the NBA (Curry), the league’s second-best shooter (Thompson), the league’s top defender when healthy (Green), and an older statesman anxious to prove his postseason worth (Andre Iguodala).
They have returned to the playoffs, though, because they have achieved a solid balance in combining championship-tested veterans with an otherwise inexperienced group. Jordan Poole, a third-year guard, has emerged as a darkhorse Most Improved Player contender after spending time in the G League the previous year.
All of this should make for an engrossing series full of twists and turns.
3 Things to Watch
1. Steph vs. Ja
Curry and Morant: As the two meet again in the playoffs, expect more highlight clips and social media insults to reemerge. Following a month-long injury hiatus, Curry has returned to his starting role and looked as sharp as ever. The Warriors are likely to offer Morant varied amounts of Thompson, Wiggins, and Payton II.
2. Will Poole build off his early playoff success?
Poole scored the second-most points in team history in their first three postseason appearances. He also became a member of a formidable small-ball team, which piqued notice. Poole has shown confidence throughout the playoffs while being humble in embracing his job. It will simply depend on Poole’s ability to make tactical alterations in real-time.
3. Expect both the Warriors and Grizzlies to have a small lineup
The Grizzlies and Warriors do not have to depend on a typical center in this matchup. Draymond Green has complete control of the power forward position. It will be exciting to watch whether the squad excels at the tiny ball.
See more: National Basketball Association Updates