Game Guide: Klay’s comeback tour continues as Warriors face Grizzlies, Bucks

Published January 10, 2022, 9:00 PMYoyo Sarmenta

Watch out for more Klay Thompson action this week with the Warriors set to face Ja Morant’s Grizzlies and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks.

Showdown out West

Warriors vs Grizzlies: Jan. 12, 9:00 AM on NBA League Pass 

The Klay Thompson return tour is in full swing as the Golden State Warriors visit the Memphis Grizzlies. After his first game back where he scored 17 points and looked active on both ends of the floor, you know he’ll continue to get his legs under him. 

Along with Klay, this game has all the makings of must-see TV with stars Steph Curry and Ja Morant. The Warriors and Grizzlies are two of the top four teams in the West and both are playing high-level basketball as of late. Not to mention, Memphis is on a nine-game winning streak. 

How will the pesky Grizzlies defense hound the ever-moving Warriors especially now with Klay in rotation? How will the Warriors plan to slow down Morant and his underrated crew of Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., Zaire Williams, and the rest of the Grizz? This could be a playoff matchup down the line. 

Who is the East’s top dog?

Nets vs Bulls: Jan. 13, 11:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines via Smart GigaPlay app

It’s always an enjoyable matchup when you have the best teams in the conference going at it. This particular game has an extra wrinkle because this one will be in Chicago, so Kyrie Irving will be available to suit up.

The Bulls have prided themselves to be a strong defensive unit (13th in defensive rating and fifth in points allowed). Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving have a way of bending defenses to their will and they will surely present a challenge to the Bulls. 

Coach Steve Nash and the rest of the Nets have their own worries considering that Irving just joined the team. Questions about rotations, playing time, schemes, defensive assignments, and whatnots are out in the open with this part-time setup with their star player. The Nets, much like last season, continue to be an ongoing experiment and what better way to test this experiment than against a team like the Bulls. 

Battle of champions

Warriors vs Bucks: Jan. 14, 8:30 AM on One Sports

The Warriors want what the Bucks have: the title. It wasn’t too long ago when the Warriors were the kings of the NBA. Now, they are hoping to return to their glory days. Steph, Klay, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, and Andre Igoudala know what it’s like to win, and this current season feels a lot like their championship seasons. 

The Warriors’ dynasty paved the way for the pace and space era of the game with the 3-pointer as the main weapon. But with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rise, the Bucks offered a slightly alternative way to get to the top. Sure, they still space the floor and shoot 3s, but it also helped that they have an athletic 6-foot-11 superhero incarnate barreling in the paint. Giannis punctuated the value of being extremely versatile and physically overwhelming on both ends of the floor. 

This particular meeting of contenders is a clash of styles and talent. Will we see these two teams again in June?

Two teams under the radar

76ers vs Heat: Jan. 16, 9:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines via Smart GigaPlay app

The spotlight has moved away from the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat because the Nets and Bulls are at the top of the heap. Though they’re not being talked about, these two teams are still pretty damn good and their being in the East Conference’s top five is indicative of that. 

Despite the lack of personnel, the Heat have not only stayed competitive, but also excelled as underdogs. With the team ravaged by injuries and COVID-19 issues, they’ve been consistently short-handed. Credit goes to Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, and also the bench mob for giving them a fighting chance night in and night out. Did you see how they battled and stunned the Phoenix Suns last week? They’re still scrappy and tough despite the lack of bodies. 

The 76ers are in pretty decent shape as well, with Joel Embiid having his own MVP case brewing. Even though they haven’t resolved the saga with embattled star Ben Simmons, they’ve managed to adjust and tweak their style that still suits Embiid. Philadelphia’s game against Miami is a good measuring stick to where they currently stand. 

Round 3 of Nuggets-Jazz

Jazz vs Nuggets: Jan. 17, 9:00 AM on One Sports

In round one between the Nuggets and Jazz back in October, Rudy Gobert starred and capitalized on the second-half absence of Nikola Jokic. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year notched 23 points and 16 rebounds in Utah’s 122-110 home victory. Jokic had 24 points before leaving the game because of a knee injury. 

Round two last week also belonged to the Jazz thanks to a season-high 36 points from Bojan Bogdanovic. Jokic had a monster outing of 26 points, 21 rebounds, and 11 assists, but the Jazz still won sans Gobert (shoulder), 115-109. 

So what does round three offer? You know Jokic is itching for a victory against these guys so you can probably expect another huge production from him. But the Jazz are still the better team with their lineup pretty much intact. Utah has been through a number of injuries lately, but compared to Denver who’s playing without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., the Jazz are still pretty much in better shape.

An uber-talented and extremely smart player like Jokic against a high-IQ club like the Jazz is always a treat.