Programming note: Watch "Warriors Playoff Central" tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area Plus, and immediately after Game 5 on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Both shows will also be streamed live right here.
OAKLAND – The Warriors in the regular season lost only two of 41 games at Oracle Arena. Their goal in the Western Conference Semifinals is to avoid losing two of a possible four home playoff games to the Memphis Grizzlies.
If the Warriors meet that goal, they'll move into the Western Conference Finals.
The first step comes in Game 5 Wednesday night at Oracle, where the Warriors will try to take a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven series. Each team has won once on the other's floor, but the Warriors have two home games remaining if the series goes the distance.
The intrigue around Game 5 centers largely on how the Grizzlies respond to a defense they couldn't solve in Game 4, when the Warriors assigned Andrew Bogut to defend non-shooting forward Tony Allen, thereby allowing the center the ability to freelance.
It worked splendidly, and now it's up to Memphis to construct a counter-move.
Warriors by 9.5.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green vs. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph: No matter the object of Bogut's attention, even if it's Tony Allen, the goal is to contain Smash Brothers Gasol and Randolph. Green will play a part, as will David Lee and maybe Harrison Barnes will get a rematch with Z-Bo. Point is, Bogut and Green have more help than Gasol and Randolph.
Stephen Curry vs. Mike Conley: Curry routed Conley in Game 4, and the result was a 17-point Warriors victory. Steph doesn't have to go that far to win the battle. If he exercises more control over the pace of the game than does Conley, the Warriors almost certainly will find a way to win.
Klay Thompson vs. Tony Allen: Though Allen was marginalized when he failed to produce offense in Game 4, his goal remains to keep Klay from going off. It doesn't always work, but it doesn't need to. Klay has proven he can score on Allen, so it's advantage Warriors as long as he limits the turnovers.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1) Run, run, run: Understanding the need to set tempo, the Warriors did so in Game 4 by utilizing ferocious defense. It worked, so they’ll aim for a repeat performance.
2) Keep it moving: Most of the Grizzlies, Randolph in particular, are vulnerable to rapid ball movement. Extra passes mean extra effort, which hurts the bigger team.
3) Protect the rim: Bogut did a marvelous job in Game 4, holding Memphis to 11 percent shooting at the rim. Force the Griz outside, where they're not so dangerous.
Warriors: F Marreese Speights (strained right calf) and C Ognjen Kuzmic (sprained left ankle) are listed as out.
Grizzlies: F Tony Allen (sore left hamstring) is a game-time decision.
The teams are tied at two games apiece in this best-of-seven series, the first playoff meeting between the teams. Since losing 11 consecutive regular-season games to Memphis, the Warriors have won six of the last nine meetings overall.