NBA Gameday: Klay questionable against Grizzlies

NBA Gameday: Klay questionable against Grizzlies

Programming note: Warriors-Grizzlies coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

OAKLAND -- The Warriors will be seeking their 10th consecutive home victory Friday night, when they face the Memphis Grizzlies at Oracle Arena.

It’s a contrast of styles, as the Warriors (31-5) play at the third-fastest pace in the NBA, while the Grizzlies (22-16) operate at the third-slowest pace. It worked last month, as Memphis held the Warriors to a season-low 89 points.

Perhaps the only way Memphis, which has lost four of its last five road games, can keep the game close is by slowing the action to a crawl.

Would the veteran Warriors, who may be without Klay Thompson, allow themselves to fall victim to such a trap?

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 12.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Mike Conley. Curry is the back-to-back MVP. Conley is the terrific point guard who never has been an All-Star but owns the league’s biggest contract (five years, $153 million). Each man accepts his role as the catalyst. A big night from Conley practically is a must for the Grizzlies to have a chance at victory.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Klay Thompson (illness) is listed as questionable.

Grizzlies: F JaMychal Green (facial fracture) participated in shootaround and is a game-time decision. F Brandan Wright (L ankle surgery recovery) and C Deyonta Davis (L foot plantar fascia tear) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 9-1. Grizzlies: 4-6.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors had won six in a row before Memphis snapped the streak by taking the previous meeting this season, 110-89, on Dec. 10 at FedEx Forum. The Warriors have won the last four games in Oakland and eight of the last 10 overall.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

1) Klay vs. The Grindfather: Grizzlies 2-guard Tony Allen, AKA The Grindfather, is a great on-ball defender, and he takes particular pride in his work against Klay Thompson. Thompson is averaging 10.0 points (on 13-of-34 shooting) in his last three confrontations with Allen. After managing only 14 points in a win over Portland on Wednesday, Klay will be looking to score. If Thompson is able to play, this could get interesting.

2) The Big Men: On paper, this is a mismatch. Memphis center Marc Gasol may be the most skilled center in the NBA. Warriors center Zaza Pachulia is a role player. But . . . he leads all centers in fan voting (it’s early) for the upcoming All-Star Game. Seriously. Pachulia’s task is to bring physicality without fouling.

3) Bring the D: The Grizzlies, quite simply, do not shoot well. They’re dead last in field-goal percentage (42.3 percent) and 28th in points per game. It reasonably solid defensive effort should be enough to spoil any chance for an upset.

Warriors as healthy as ever while playing waiting game for next opponent

Warriors as healthy as ever while playing waiting game for next opponent

OAKLAND -- Now that the Warriors have gone through a full-squad scrimmage for the first time in three weeks, there is only one issue to be resolved before they get back to the business of the playoffs.

Whom to play? And when?

As of Friday afternoon, the Warriors had no idea of either.

They will face the winner of the Clippers-Jazz first-round series, in which Utah took a 3-2 lead into Game 6 Friday night in Salt Lake City.

“Why are we talking about Utah like the Clippers are done?” Draymond Green wondered after fielding several Jazz-related questions after scrimmaging.

Well, because the Jazz won Games 4 and 5 and is favored to win Game 6 at home. If they win, they’ll come into Oracle Arena Sunday afternoon to meet the Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

If the Clippers win Game 6 to even the series, those teams will meet for Game 7 Sunday in Los Angeles, with the winner advancing to face the Warriors in Game 1 of the conference semifinals next Tuesday night in Oakland.

In any case, the Warriors appear about as healthy has they have been at any time since February.

Veteran guard Shaun Livingston, out with a finger/hand injury since Game 1 (April 16) of the first-round series against Portland, participated in the scrimmage, as did veteran forward Matt Barnes, who last played on April 8, when he sustained a bone bruise atop his right foot.

“They practiced today and they even went through the scrimmage,” acting head coach Mike Brown said. “But we’ll wait for our training staff to clear them, after they see how they feel today and (Saturday).”

In short, if swelling is minimal, both will be available for Game 1, regardless of when.

So, too, will Kevin Durant. After a strained left calf kept him out of Games 2 and 3 against the Trail Blazers, he started and played 20 minutes in decisive Game 4 without any ill effects.

Nothing changed during the scrimmage Friday.

“It felt great out there,” he said. “Nothing bothered me. It was definitely good. I’m just trying to hopefully put that injury stuff behind.”

Durant conceded that he continues to receive treatment and ice, but mostly to minimize potential swelling.

Durant makes plea to NBA officials: 'S--- talking is part of the game'

Durant makes plea to NBA officials: 'S--- talking is part of the game'

OAKLAND -- Kevin Durant wishes more NBA officials had a better grasp of the language of the game.

They don’t seem to understand that “trash talk” almost always is little more than an act in which healthy emotions are released. It’s as much of the game on the court as pointing out a bad haircut or a fashion error in the locker room.

“I was raised that if you weren’t talking on the court, then something (bad) is going on,” Durant said after Warriors practice on Friday.

Durant caught a glimpse of the chatter earlier this week between former Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook and Houston guard Patrick Beverley in decisive Game 5 of the Thunder-Rockets series and was disappointed when the officials slapped each with a technical foul.

“I was like, ‘Man, just play on. It’s a part of the game,’” Durant said.

Though Durant himself is not a premier trash-talker, he plays alongside one in fellow forward Draymond Green.

“That’s why we started playing, to talk a little s--- here and there,” said Durant, who grew up in the Washington D.C. area. “Draymond is really good at it. There are a lot of guys in the league that are good. More guys are quiet now than before.

“But s--- talking is a part of the game. I love it. It’s fun when you’re on the same team as a guy that does it. And then, when you’re playing against it, it’s even better because it brings the best out of you.”

For Durant, there always will be a place for trash talk on the court. Not only did he experience it while growing up but he also was indoctrinated in the practice from the moment he arrived in the NBA in 2007.

He recalls, with fondness, being targeted as a rookie by Kevin Garnett and a few other Celtics.

“When I came into the league, that’s when the Celtics had just got together,” Durant said. “Paul Pierce and KG and those guys talked bad to me as a rookie. I was 19. And they talked so bad to me. And I was talking right back. It was just a fun exchange. That’s what basketball is about.”

Now if only he could get officials to realize this.