In a little while I’ll pack up my stuff and head to Oracle Arena to watch Game 2 of the second round playoff series between the Warriors and Grizzlies. The Warriors are favored by 10 points, just as they were before Game 1. Nothing in Game 1 occurred that led us to believe that the Warriors would be in any sort of trouble this series, especially at home.
So, even though it’ll be fun to see how the crowd reacts to the first MVP they can call their own after Stephen Curry’s gracious speech yesterday, why drive for 90 minutes (that’s what it usually takes to go from San Francisco to the Coliseum on a normal weekday afternoon) if we already know what’ll happen? Truth is, we don’t. The Warriors seemed to have all the answers on Sunday, but it’s possible that the Grizzlies will shock everyone and steal a game in Oakland. Here are some things that could lead to an upset.
1. Mike Conley comes back (and plays well)
Despite finding it difficult to sit through the noise and flashing lights at Oracle on Sunday (Sounds an awful lot like concussion symptoms, no?), Conley said “I believe I will” when asked if he’d play tonight. It doesn’t sound like a good idea for a guy who, just a week ago, spent the two days after his surgery puking, to return this soon — especially considering how his brain seems to be responding and what could happen to his face if he’s forced into a hard screen from Andrew Bogut. But good players have played very well with hard plastic masks on their faces before. The Grizzlies need Conley to survive, and they should be a better team with him on the floor, even if he’s not quite at full strength.
2. The MVP trophy feels like an anchor
Curry has never played a game one day after accepting an MVP trophy before. It seems likelier that he’ll rise to the moment, but it’s possible that his shot and game will be a little bit off this soon after winning the NBA’s most prestigious individual award. Was Curry able to get any sleep last night? Does that even matter? The crowd will make sure that he hears those “M-V-P” chants more often than ever before during tonight’s game, so Curry will have to keep his emotions and check and make sure he sticks to his game and doesn’t try to back up those 100 first place votes with an MVP performance — well, that’d actually be fine, as long as he doesn’t fall short and get frustrated.
3. Bogut gets hurt
We can probably list this one before every playoff game, but we saw Bogut limp a bit in Game 1. He fell awkwardly, then committed a foul that looked intentional before heading to the bench. Once there, he sat for a bit while grimacing, then took a knee on the baseline and did some stretches for his back and/or hip. He returned to the game, and when I asked if he tweaked anything in the first quarter he responded with a terse “I’m good.” So it’s probably nothing.
4. Playoff whistles
Marc Gasol complained that Game 1 wasn’t physical enough, and said his team needs to remedy that in Game 2. That’s fine, as long as the fouls are called as such. If the Grizzlies are allowed to knock Curry to the floor, grab cutters, and use their elbows liberally on rebounds without any repercussions, the Warriors will get frustrated and probably earn the technical fouls to prove it.
Related problem scenario: Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut get into foul trouble again, only this time Mo Speights and Festus Ezeli don’t play well.
5. The Warriors drop their guard
They swept a game Pelicans team and wiped the floor with the Grizzlies in Game 1. This group coached by Steve Kerr has not lost a playoff game yet, and no one expects that to change tonight. Hey, I don’t expect that to change, even after listing all of these “Chicken Little” hypotheticals. However, if they come out like they did against New Orleans in the first quarter of Game 2 or the second and third quarters of Game 3, Memphis probably isn’t going to choke on their own vomit like the young Pelicans did.
See, there are some reasons for doubt and to watch this game on the edge of your seat/La-Z-Boy/couch tonight. If you want to chat about the game with other Warriors fans, but don’t want to deal with your cluttered Twitter timeline full of baseball tweets and whatever else, I’d love for you to join me, Marcus Thompson, Jordan Ramirez and a bunch of Warriors fans in the WarriorsWorld FanKave tonight. You can download the free App here.
It’s easy to set up, just choose your favorite team and hop into the Kave. We’ll try to provide a little extra on what we see in person at Oracle, and you can win a free t-shirt if you post a photo showing your pride in the Warriors. Details below: