Ja Morant and Stephen Curry will be part of something special. Sunday’s duel between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies will mark the first time in NBA history that two teams will battle it out for the two play-in lanes.
The winner will likely become the eighth seed and will therefore need just one win over the seventh seed to officially qualify for the playoffs. The loser of the game will go to the lower lane and will therefore need two wins to qualify. These realities already make for an exciting duel. It’s reasonable to expect the Warriors to easily take care of the Grizzlies.
But a closer look would reveal that the Warriors are actually a very vulnerable team as opposed to the Grizzlies who have managed to build a good foundation over the last two years.
As such, here are 3 reasons Ja Morant’s Grizzlies will upset Stephen Curry’s Warriors in Sunday’s battle for the play-in spot.
Grizzlies have been here before
This Grizzlies squad knows what it’s like to play in a single game where everything is on the line. Though Sunday’s game will not be the play-in tourney, it has the same tense atmosphere as a play-in tourney or maybe even a Game 7 of a playoff series. With that said, the Grizzlies are more experienced in this matter. To recall, they qualified for the first play-in tourney last season but got booted out by the Portland Trail Blazers.
One can argue that the Warriors are much more experienced, having a solid core led by Stephen Curry and Draymond Green with the guidance of Steve Kerr. But honestly, that’s all they have. The rest of the players, while extremely talented, haven’t proved anything yet. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, have been tried and tested in combat over the last two seasons. Yes, they are young. But they have built an incredible bond that the Warriors simply do not have at this point.
Warriors fans have been extremely satisfied that Stephen Curry is back to his old self after battling a series of injuries over the last two seasons. Curry is back to humiliating foes with his 3-pointers, scoring outbursts, and nifty plays. His antics have led to victories. But the problematic thing is, even in games where Curry goes for on a scoring tear, the Warriors end up in defeat. The Grizzlies know this.
And the reason is pretty simple: The rest of the Warriors are an inconsistent bunch. The Grizzlies can pounce on them. We’re all familiar with Kelly Oubre’s struggles early on. Props to him for finally finding the rhythm yet there are still games where he just disappears. Somehow the same is true for Andrew Wiggins. He’s obviously more productive than Oubre.
But for the Warriors to have a fighting chance against the Grizzlies, he needs to put up more than 20 points each night. Something that he is very capable of doing but is not doing.
As such, expect Curry to show up in this game with a barrage of 3-pointers. But their victory ultimately hinges on the performance of Wiggins, Oubre, and the rest of the crew. And honestly, it wouldn’t be wise to bank on this inherent malleability against the Grizzlies.
No one can guard Ja Morant and Grizzlies’ bigs
Interestingly, Sunday’s game will be the first-ever duel between Ja Morant and Stephen Curry. It’s exciting because fans will see two of the top guards (the young and the old) face one another. But frankly, Morant will likely pounce on Curry every chance he gets. Curry has always been a defensive liability. Just recall those playoff games where the likes of Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, or Kyrie Irving would punish Curry every single time. Expect the same result on Sunday for the Grizzlies.
Apart from Morant, the Warriors will have a tough time dealing with the Grizzlies’ bigs. The Warriors are pretty unlucky that Jaren Jackson Jr. is now back from injury. He has played enough games and his legs are finally underneath him. But apart from Jackson, the Warriors need to worry about veteran big man Jonas Valanciunas as well. The Warriors literally have no counters to these two bigs. Draymond Green and Jordan Bell are okay. But they will never be enough. Expect Jackson and Valanciunas to have a party in the paint and guide the team to victory.