In rising to the level of NBA elite the past few seasons, the Warriors have had to vanquish many ghosts along the way. The Memphis Grizzlies once fell into that category.
After a five-year stretch during which they lost 14 of 17 games against the Grizzlies – including eight in a row in Memphis – the Warriors now treat FedEx Forum like any other road venue. They’ve won four of the last five at the “Grindhouse.”
They’ll try to continue their recent domination when the teams meet Saturday night. Largely behind spells of fantastic defense, the Warriors (20-3) have won 16 of the last 17, including the last four in a row.
Though punctured by injuries, the Grizzlies (16-8) have managed to overachieve, winning five in a row under first-year head coach David Fizdale, a former Warriors assistant.
Warriors by 12.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Zaza Pachulia vs. Marc Gasol. Already one of the best centers in the league, Gasol’s work at both ends has kept the Grizzlies afloat despite injuries to several key teammates. Though Pachulia will get the initial assignment, expect the Warriors to send a variety of defenders at “Big Spain.” Containing him is surest way for the Warriors to maintain control of the game.
Warriors: 9-1. Grizzlies: 7-3.
Only two NBA players are averaging better than 19 points, four assists, 1.5 blocks while shooting at least 40 percent beyond the arc: Warriors forward Kevin Durant and Gasol.
Warriors: F Andre Iguodala (rest) and F Kevon Looney (R ankle sprain) are listed as out.
Grizzlies: F Vince Carter (R hip flexor strain) and G Troy Daniels (illness) are listed as questionable. G Mike Conley (lower back injury), F James Ennis III (R calf strain). F Chandler Parsons (L knee bone bruise) and F Brandan Wright (L ankle surgery) are listed as out.
The Warriors have won the last six in a row and eight of the last nine.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Class is in session? With Conley out, rookie Andrew Harrison gets the primary assignment against Stephen Curry. Harrison is rangy enough (6-foot-6) to present problems. The Kentucky product also is the kind of blue-chip recruit Curry loves to take to school.
Who becomes the equalizer? Iguodala excels in the role of stabilizing the offense and creating havoc on defense. He’s unique enough that his absence will be felt. The Warriors need someone to fill that void. Pat McCaw and Shaun Livingston are the top candidates.
Beware the grind: Memphis is terrific at keeping it close and finding a finishing kick. They’re 12-0 in games that go into overtime or are decided by five or fewer points. So far this month they’ve come back to win despite trailing in the fourth quarter by 14 against Orlando, 13 against Portland and 10 against New Orleans.