With the series 2-1 in favor of the fifth seeded Memphis Grizzlies, the Golden State Warriors face a tough challenge when they travel to FedEx Forum in Tennessee for the pivotal game four of their Western Conference playoff series today (9.35pm ET, Monday).
Memphis began their championship journey by defeating the Portland Trailblazers in five games in the first round of the playoffs. Considered the better team despite the lower seed, Memphis easily took care of Portland. Facing them next however were the Warriors, far and away the best team in the NBA this year.
The Grizzlies were expected to be overmatched and that came to fruition after the first game which Memphis lost convincingly by 15 points. Golden State’s star and this year’s MVP winner, Stephen Curry (pictured), had 22 points in the victory and his fellow ‘Splash Brother’ Klay Thompson added 18. The team played well rested and took care of business at home as they have been all year. For Memphis, it seemed as if the series could already be over.
But the Grizzlies and their staunch defense clamped down, holding Golden State to under 95 points for the first time this postseason and just the fourth time this year. In game three they did it again, this time limiting the Warriors to 89 points and Curry to just 8 of 21 from the field.
Memphis is still considered the underdog in this series but they have shown much more than anyone expected. They are the hot team right now and with the next two games at home, it’s a legitimate concern that the Warriors might not even get to return to California to finish out the series.
Memphis Proving Playoff Experience is no Myth
Golden State had one of the best offenses in the regular season. No doubt the team is talented, skilled, and proficient from beyond the arc. But for everything the Warriors have, every advantage they were given entering the postseason, there is one thing they don’t have that this Memphis team does.
The Grizzlies are in the midst of the best period in franchise history. They have reached five consecutive postseasons and have done so largely with the same core of players. The turnaround began a year after the team acquired Zach Randolph from the New York Knicks. The veteran Randolph joined a talented roster that included two seven-year Grizzlies in Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, both of whom are enjoying career years this season.
Memphis’ average age is 27.7 which is really not that much older than Golden State, who come in with an average age of 27.1. But the major difference is that most of the players on the Warriors roster don’t have the extensive playoff experience the Grizzlies have.
Since the mid 2000s the Warriors have made the playoffs three times, each time failing to do anything significant. Memphis on the other hand is in the midst of a five year run that has seen them oust the top seed three times and reach the Western Conference Finals once as well. This team knows what it takes to get to that next level and against the Warriors thus far, they have shown it. Randolph is averaging 16.5 points and 8.3 rebounds, Mike Conley 16.2 points and Marc Gasol close to 20 points and over nine boards per game. These three are firing on all cylinders and have really been cohesive over the past two games. They have held Curry in check and really the key to beating the Warriors, is somehow managing to do just that.
Can Steph Curry return to MVP Status?
After the series’ third game, Curry was very vocal about his and his team’s performance. He admitted to needing to do a better job and needing to find that other gear that he played with for most of the season. Curry was the MVP and it was well deserved. He was lethal this year from the three point line, shooting close to 44%. He shot a career second best 48.7 field goal percentage as well. Everything the Warriors needed him to be, he was.
But so far in this series, game one withstanding, Curry has been, dare I say, rather pedestrian. He has failed to find any sort of rhythm, has been forced to take low percentage shots and when he has had the open look from beyond the arc, has been off point. In fact, Curry is currently shooting just 27% from three this series including 4 of 21, or 19 percent in the past two games. Not coincidentally, the Warriors have lost these two games, as their three point shooting is a big part of the team’s success.
More than just his percentage behind the arc, Curry’s overall field goal percentage is down as well. Compared to the almost 49% he shot over the regular season and the 45+ he shot in Golden State’s first round series, Curry is coming in at just 39.7 accuracy this series while still taking a high volume of the team’s shots. Unlike the first series, Curry has failed to make over 45% of his shots in each game so far.
Without Curry, the Warriors lose that X-Factor. In fact, they lose the Y and Z factors too. Curry is Golden State and unless he comes out in game four with a vintage performance such as those that won him this year’s MVP, Golden State could be in big trouble.
Golden State Warriors vs Memphis Grizzlies Game 4 Betting Picks
Despite the level of talent, this series has not been particularly close. No game has been decided by less than seven points and in each contest the winning team has looked the part almost from start to finish. That said, game four will tell us if this stage is too big for the Warriors. It will show if Memphis has a legitimate shot to win the whole thing.
- This will bring out the best in both teams and it should be quite the show. I’m expecting a close one so take Memphis +5pts on the spread @ best betting odds of -110 with BetOnline or 5Dimes sportsbooks (Bovada is -115).
- Additionally, I like the total to fall under the projected 196 @ -110 with Bovada, BetOnline or 5Dimes, because win or lose, I don’t see Memphis’ defensive grip letting up at all.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.