Most compelling storyline
If there’s ever an official list of most entertaining teams this season, the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies are definitely in the top tier.
Both teams, while playing different styles of basketball, have perfected the formula of coming up with the most exciting plays at any given time. A lot of superlatives there, precisely because that’s who these two teams are.
Both have elite defenders in their team: Draymond Green for the Warriors and league leader in blocks Jaren Jackson Jr. for the Grizzlies. Both have the league’s premiere scorers in Steph Curry and Ja Morant. And that’s just scratching the surface. Dig deeper, and there’s a treasure trove of talent that’s being unearthed in these playoffs. The Warriors have Jordan Poole and Gary Payton II; the Grizzlies have Tyus Jones and Desmond Bane.
Then there’s the Andre Iguodala intersect, where the veteran champ made a quick stopover in Memphis that the young guys—Dillon Brooks, in particular—didn’t appreciate. The Warriors and the Grizzlies have rivalry potential just from sheer talent. This second-round series is the first chapter.
The gravitational pulls of Curry and Morant affect everything in their respective orbits. This means that for both sides, the X-factor is the person who gets the defensive assignment.
For the Warriors, they can throw in either Andrew Wiggins or Payton to obstruct Morant’s flight path. The Grizzlies may put Bane to shadow Curry.
Whatever the case may be, the defensive matchups will dictate how either squad will strategize.
With Morant being the league’s best in scoring in the paint, the simplest winning blueprint yet the most difficult task for the Warriors is to prevent the dribble drive. This forces the Grizzlies to create a different type of offense, which—unfortunately for the Warriors—is something the young and creative Memphis would certainly welcome.
What the Grizzlies can’t do, however, is to allow the Warriors to build a comfortable space between them on the scoreboard. The Warriors are an experienced, battle-tested team that won’t throw away huge leads multiple times.
If instant aging is possible, the Grizzlies should do exactly that in this series for a chance to end the inspired mission of this Warriors team.