Last season, rookie head coach Mark Jackson introduced himself to the Bay Area media with a bold prediction that his Warriors would make the playoffs for the first time since the We Believe team shocked the NBA world in 2007.This year, Jackson has avoided any guarantees. But Stephen Curry thinks that his coach is just as confident as he was a year ago.Ask his wife or his family, they probably heard him saying we're going to the playoffs this year, Curry said Monday at Warriors media day. He'd probably say it to us, you know we're going to get there, so that will never change and that's why we do what we do.Even though Jacksons preseason statement last year put pressure on his players, Curry appreciates the confidence his coach exudes.He made us believe that we were going to make the playoffs last year when we heard him say that, Curry said. You want your coach to have confidence in you, especially a first-time coach who knows what this roster is. So to have that much faith in us, that does go a long way in the locker room.Curry, as one of the teams captains along with Andrew Bogut and David Lee, is ready for a bigger leadership role in Jacksons locker room. He even said hes ready to scream at teammates if necessary.They know that we're going to have an atmosphere in our locker room that guys can take criticism, take encouragement and make each other better, Curry said. So we're not going to be a sensitive team or when one guy yells and somebody holds grudges. Everybody is sick of losing so something has got to change and we've got to figure out how to make each other better throughout the process of the season.Veteran Richard Jefferson thinks that the maturation of the Warriors young core is crucial if the team wants to end its lengthy playoff drought. So whose job is it to help the players focus on the task at hand?It's Coach Jackson's job, it's my job, it's mainly their job, Jefferson said. How seriously are they going to take this after losses, after wins? Are you letting it shrug off your shoulders because you only won X amount of games over the last couple of years. No, it's how serious you take this, how much of a profession you make this. Are you in every single day taking shots whether you went 10-for-10 or 0-for-10? That's what it means to go to the next level.Does Jefferson see that level of commitment from his teammates?Yes, but only time will tell, Jefferson said. Everyone right now is undefeated and for the most part everyone is healthy. Everyone is in the playoffs. So right now it's very optimistic and rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. Where we are at the All-Star break and where we are with 25 games to go, where we are at the end of the season, that will kind of let us know what we've learned.Other than maturity, Jefferson believes that the health of the Warriors new-look roster will go a long way in determining their fate this season.I think it's an improved team, but you have to stay healthy, Jefferson said. You never know what can happen. I played with Andrew Bogut one year in Milwaukee, Michael Redd tears his ACL, and this was a guy that didn't miss many games in his career. Bogut obviously had his back injury. So we had a really good team on paper, but then some key injuries happened and we weren't able to accomplish our goals. So staying healthy is half the battle.Bogut and Curry are the big question marks health-wise heading into the season, but both expect to play in the Warriors first game on Oct. 31 in Phoenix.Right now it's about being healthy, Curry said. I have no concern about plays as long as I'm out there on the floor. Just being present; can't help the team from the bench. But team-wise, we're not guaranteeing anything. We're not going to say we're better than we are. Our goal is to make the playoffs; that should be every team's goal. You build on that, winning championships and all that. So we're just trying to make the playoffs and take it from there.
When the Warriors set foot in FedEx Forum on Saturday, they’ll find a very different atmosphere as well as a barely recognizable team of Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grindhouse is not the same. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter have left the building. So, too, has the “Grindfather” himself, Tony Allen.
So in their only trip to Memphis this season, the Warriors will focus mostly on point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol, the remaining core members of the team that reached the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons.
The Warriors (1-1) will be playing for the second night in a row, while the Grizzlies (1-0) have not played since their season opener Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.
Warriors by 8.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Stephen Curry vs. Mike Conley: Curry has a long memory, and he will remember not only that the Warriors last season lost twice to the Grizzlies but also that Conley’s 27 points and clutch play offset Curry’s 40 points and led Memphis to an overtime win in Oakland. It won’t matter to Curry that the Warriors posted double-digit wins over the Grizzlies in the last two meetings last season. He may want to take over.
Warriors: F Omri Casspi (L ankle sprain) has been ruled out.
Grizzlies: F JaMychal Green (L ankle sprain), G Ben McLemore (R foot surgery) and G/F Wayne Selden Jr. (R quad injury) are listed as out.
RECENT SERIES HISTORY:
The Warriors have won five of the last seven in Memphis and 10 of the last 13 meetings overall.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
BREEZE OR WHEEZE: Coach Steve Kerr has expressed some concern about the team’s conditioning level. On the second night of their first back-to-back set -- with the Warriors arriving at the hotel at 2:30 a.m. -- it could provide a glimpse of their progress. Kerr said he would consider resting one or two players. Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, both coming off injuries, would seem logical candidates.
GEORGIA VS. SPAIN: The Republic of Georgia’s Zaza Pachulia and Spain’s Marc Gasol know each other well, having spent years battling internationally and in the NBA. There will be no surprises, but Pachulia will have to avoid foul trouble to remain a part of his team’s defensive rotation against one of the league’s best big men.
HOT KLAY: Klay Thompson is off to a torrid start, shooting 11-of-18 from beyond the arc through the first two games. And now he won’t have to worry about Allen, who relished in opportunities to defend the Warriors All-Star. Memphis replaced Allen with Andrew Harrison, who is not in the Grindfather’s class as a defender.
Klay Thompson is putting his money where his mouth is.
Shortly before Noon PT on Friday, Klay posted a 30-second video to Twitter to let it be known that he is donating to the North Bay fire relief.
"Hey everyone. As we all know, Northern California has been tragically effected by these wildfires for the past few weeks.
And I will be pledging $1,000 per point I score for the next three home games. And you can donate as well by clicking on the link below.
We will be donating to the Redwood Credit Union's fire relief efforts. Let's stick together because a lot of loved ones and families have been displaced and lost from these terrible events.
Property has been damanged but we can build this thing back up if we stick together and donate.
Thank you for listening."
The Warriors' next three home games are:
1) October 25 vs Toronto (18.7 points over 11 career games)
2) October 27 vs Washington (18.4 points over 11 career games)
3) October 29 vs Detroit (18.2 points over 11 career games)
Hopefully the Warriors will be able to create a lot of good looks for Klay during that stretch...
Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller