OAKLAND -- Forgive the Warriors if they have a measure of vengeance on their minds when the step on the floor Sunday afternoon.
They’ll be staring at the Memphis Grizzlies, who came into Oracle Arena on Jan. 6 and handed the Warriors perhaps their most galling regular-season loss in three years, wiping out a 19-point fourth-quarter deficit to take a 128-119 victory in overtime. It was the first time in 55 years a team had staged a comeback of that magnitude against the team with the best record in the league.
The Warriors (58-14), who have been the NBA’s best home team since 2014, will be seeking to even the season series as well as win their seventh consecutive game.
One of the surprise teams of the NBA in the first half of the season, the Grizzlies (40-32) have come back to reality, going 6-8 since the All-Star break. They’ve lost their last two, at New Orleans and at San Antonio.
Warriors by 10.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Stephen Curry vs. Mike Conley: It has become cliché to say Conley is underrated, so we’ll just say he’s the NBA’s finest unsung point guard. Curry and his teammates know this. Conley this season is averaging career-highs in scoring (20.0 points per game), field -goal percentage (44.9) and 3-point field-goal percentage (39.7). Curry, of course, is the back-to-back MVP and the man most likely to feel salty about that Jan. 6 loss. He also has been playing well of late. These two will generally dictate the fortunes of their respective teams.
Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L knee sprain and bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.
Grizzlies: C Marc Gasol (L foot strain) is out. F Chandler Parsons (L knee rehab) is listed as out. G Wade Baldwin, C Deyonta Davis and Jarell Martin are on assignment with Iowa of the D-League.
Warriors: 7-3. Grizzlies: 4-6.
The Warriors have lost two of three meetings earlier this season but have won nine of the last 12 overall.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
THE PACE GAME: The Grizzlies are deliberate and ultra-physical. They prefer to play at a crawl; they rank 28th in pace. Their philosophy is to stay close through three quarters and find a way to win in the fourth. The Warriors want to play at jackrabbit speed; they’re third in pace. The team that can impose its style gains a massive advantage.
OPENING/CLOSING STATEMENTS: The Warriors will seek to build an early lead in hopes of enlarging their margin for error. They may need any cushion they can create, as they well know the Grizzlies thrive in the clutch. Memphis is 15-6 in “super-clutch games (within 3 points in the final minute or regulation or OT).
KLAY AND THE GRINDFATHER: Memphis guard Tony Allen takes particular pride in his ability to defend, and he goes after Klay Thompson like a lion chasing a gazelle. Each has had his individual triumphs over the other, and their battle occasionally influences the outcome. Thompson won the last, torching the Grizzlies for 36 points last month in Memphis. Allen surely remembers that.