Tip Off: 7:30 PM (PST)

Projected Starters

Memphis                                                                       Golden State

PG – Mike Conley                                                      Stephen Curry

SG –  Tony Allen                                                      Monta Ellis

SF –  Rudy Gay                                                        Dorell Wright

PF – Marreese Speights                                           David Lee

C –    Marc Gasol                                                     Andris Biedrins

Scope the opposition: Get your Grizzlies fix at 3 Shades of Blue.

Preview: After a tough home loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Golden State Warriors (5-10) will host the Memphis Grizzlies (9-6) tonight at Oracle Arena. Memphis is coming off a win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday and will be hoping to stretch their winning streak to seven when they take on the Dubs tonight.

Memphis sports a 101 offensive efficiency rating (12th in the NBA) and shoots 46.7 percent from the field (fourth in the league) on the season.

The Grizzlies are an efficient scoring bunch because they aggressively attack the interior. Indeed, whether it’s posting up their big men, having the likes of Rudy Gay attack the basket or getting Mike Conley in the lane for floaters; the Memphis players make it their business to get into the lane for shot attempts. As a result, they score 45.9 points in the paint per game (fourth in the association).

Also, given the aggressive nature of the team, they also like to get out in transition to get easy scores. On the season, the Grizzlies score 18.7 fast break points per game (third in the NBA).

With that said, Memphis loves to get interior baskets, but they are a poor shooting from deep. On the season, they only convert 33.1 percent of their 3-point field goals (18th in the league). Thus, many would be inclined to believe that teams can just pack the paint and dare them to shoot from long range and watch them miss. The strategy would be a good one thing except for one thing: the Grizz are terrific at converting long two-point shots. So far during the 2011-12 campaign, Memphis is hitting 40.8 percent of their attempts from 16-to-23 feet (fifth best in the association).

The acquisition of Marreese Speights was extremely beneficial to Lionnel Hollins’ team specifically because the big man stretches the court with his shooting from that distance. On the season, Speights is shooting 59 percent from 16-to-23 feet.

The Grizzlies may do a terrific job of scoring on the interior and also of converting their long range two-point shots, however they do not draw a lot of fouls. They average 22 free throw attempts per game (18th in the NBA) and also only convert 72.1 percent of their freebies (25th in the league).

On the other side of the ball, the Memphis Grizzlies are ninth in the NBA with a 97.8 defensive efficiency rating and allow opponents to shoot 43.3 percent shooting from the field (11th in the association).

Rudy Gay and his teammates do a good job of packing the paint and daring opponent to beat them from the perimeter. As a result, they allow 38.7 points in the paint per game (13th in the NBA).

The ability to clog the paint is obviously important and a big part of what makes the Griz successful on defense; but one could argue that the most important aspect on that side of the ball for Lionnel Hollins’ unit is Tony Allen.

The shooting guard does an incredible job of defending the best perimeter scorer on the opponent’s team; whether it’s on the perimeter or in post up situations. He is destructive and can even force players into taking some extremely tough shots. But his true value comes in his aggressive approach on defense. Indeed, because of his reputation on defense, officials tend to give him a lot of leeway and thus the shooting guard can push, clutch, grab and bump opponents without facing any consequences.

This is interesting for the Grizzlies because as Allen goes on defense, so do the rest of his teammates. The other players on the roster, but more so the starters tend to step up their aggressiveness on defense in conjunction with Allen once they realize just how much the officials will allow. Thus, players will swipe at the ball, bump cutters, push out post players and even mug players attempting to take the ball to the basket.

Consequently, Memphis is able to force 18.7 turnovers per game (second most in the NBA), which is part of why they get so many transition opportunities.

Mind you, teams with a physical mind state are rarely able to truly tone it down. They might play with the same aggressive intensity throughout the course of a game and maybe even raise it a notch, but very seldom can these types of teams become passive. The end result is that the Memphis Grizzlies play physical basketball, but foul a lot.

On the season, they put their opponents on the free throw line 24.5 times per game (10th most in the league).

The Golden State Warriors will have their hands full tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies. Monta Ellis will have to earn all of his points and Marc Gasol will probably draw fouls on Biedrins and also force David Lee to defend him throughout the game.

This could leave Stephen Curry and Dorell Wright to play big minutes and carry the offense for stretches. If they are able to do so, the Warriors might earn themselves a victory.

Also, given how many miscues the Grizzlies force per game, it will be important for the Warriors to have either Ellis or Curry in the game at all times to ensure they have a good ball handler in the game to oversee the offense and make sure the ball makes it to right spots on the floor.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at [email protected].