The Warriors, who are bannered by hot-shooting backcourt men Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, have the league’s fastest game pace, according to statistics published on NBA.com. They are exciting in the conventional sense, much like Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns teams were about a decade prior. The Grizzlies, on the other hands, pride themselves on their tough defense and grinding (fourth-slowest) game pace, with Marc Gasol productive on both ends, especially on defense, and Zach Randolph enjoying some late-career relevance as a post-up threat.
While Golden State is definitely a fun, fast-paced team, it’s no slouch on defense, as evidenced by its league-best 98.2 defensive rating, per NBA.com. However, the Warriors have had their hands full against teams that thrive on post-ups, the Grizzlies included. It’s also interesting to note that Randolph and Gasol combined for 41 points in the only time Memphis beat Golden State in three regular season encounters. It’s going to be a tall order for Warriors center Andrew Bogut, despite his defensive skills, to contain both Gasol and Randolph, while forward Draymond Green (pictured), another defensive ace for Golden State, may be too short to match up against Memphis’ big two in the post.
Still, there are some who believe that Green may be the X-factor, the unexpected player who would help Western Conference top seed Golden State win its matchup against Memphis. “I think Draymond has a lot of Dennis Rodman in him,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, referring to his former star teammate with the Chicago Bulls. “He defies positions, he guards anybody, he’s quick enough to stay in front of point guards; he’s big and strong and tough at the rim and rebounds like crazy.”
In all, Golden State remains the favorite in this matchup of offense vs defense. But Memphis has what it takes to extend this second-round series to six, or who knows, maybe seven games.