How will Warriors fare without Curry?
The Warriors need a big night from Andrew Bogut to beat Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies. (AP)
Programming note: Memphis-Warriors coverage tips off Wednesday night at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territorial restrictions apply)
In four games against fellow Western Conference contenders, the Warriors have lost three. And of those three, only once have they been soundly beaten.
That was on Nov. 9 at Memphis, a 108-90 loss to a Memphis team that visits Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors surely would like to exact some revenge. More to the point, they probably need to overcome the Grizzlies simply to realize it is possible.
The Warriors know they can beat longtime tormentor San Antonio, obtaining proof of that last spring. They know they can take the rising Clippers, having won three of four last season. And they beat powerful Oklahoma City just last week.
Memphis, though, represents that mountain the Warriors have yet to conquer. They've lost 10 in a row to the Grizzlies, including the last four at Oracle.
“We own this one,'' said coach Mark Jackson, who tended to dismiss years of futility against San Antonio by noting much of it occurred prior to his arrival. “It's not pretty and it hasn't been fun. They are a very good basketball team, with some noted strengths, and it's important for us to step up to the challenge.
“They've played well against us. They have a lot to do with that, but so do we.''
The Grizzlies rely on a specific formula, pounding the interior, and they've used that to abuse the Warriors. Center Marc Gasol and power forward Zach Randolph, in particular, have been too much for the Warriors to handle. Memphis during the streak has outscored the Warriors by an average of 51-35 in the paint, banging for 54 inside when the teams last met.
The key for the Warriors, then, is for power forward Andrew Bogut and center David Lee to at least offset the productivity and impact of Gasol and Randolph.
“For my money, they are the most difficult to play against just as a (power forward and center),'' Lee said after practice Tuesday. “Also, the way they work together. They compliment each other very well; I don't think either of them would be as effective without the other in the lineup.''
Lee acknowledged the Warriors must win the battle inside, as well as reduce turnovers. Though the Grizzlies have outrebounded the Warriors by an average of four during the streak, that advantage has been bolstered by an average of three fewer turnovers per game.
If there is one player who usually punishes the Warriors, it's Randolph, the 6-foot-10, 260-pound ogre. He's not especially athletic but he's clever and highly skilled.
“Right now he's playing at an extremely high level,'' Jackson said. “He's a big-time scorer, a big-time rebounder and he's very comfortable right now. We've got to find a way to force him to defend and also try to make life a little tougher for him when he has the basketball.''
Lee on offense has the capacity to pull Randolph away from the basket. But Randolph, whether he's facing Lee or Bogut, is capable of playing on the block or turning to shoot a midrange jumper.
“He's a guy that's very difficult to stop inside,'' Lee said. “He's a handful for anybody.''
If he's too much of a handful for Lee or Bogut, the Warriors have almost no chance to end the streak on Wednesday – especially with the absence of Stephen Curry. The point guard on Tuesday was diagnosed with a “mild concussion'' and will not play until Friday, at the soonest.
[RELATED: Curry diagnosed with concussion, out Wednesday]
“He came in, got checked on and we sent him home to make sure he got the proper rest,'' Jackson said.