After dealing with injury problems in the preseason, the Warriors were able to start their optimal lineup in their own opener, and squeaked out an 87-85 win over the Phoenix Suns despite getting only 18 minutes from starting center Andrew Bogut (who was playing his first game since breaking his ankle in January) and suffering a combined 4-30 shooting performance from incumbent top scorers Stephen Curry and David Lee.
Three quick things to look for tonight:
1. Attack Lee and Landry: With Bogut limited and rookies Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green rounding out the frontcourt rotation, forwards David Lee and Carl Landry played 62 of 96 minutes up front for the Warriors in their first game. Both are pretty bad defenders and together? Let's just say that Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and even Marreese Speights should all be able to have success when checked by either Lee or Landry. The Grizzlies post players have a chance to go large tonight.
2. Guard the three-point line: With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Brandon Rush, the Warriors boast one of the best perimeter-shooting trios in the NBA. Thompson was 4-7 from deep against the Suns, but Curry and Rush didn't connect, going a combined 0-8. If the Grizzlies give these guys space to shoot, they're all capable of going off. If the offensive gameplan should be to pound the paint, on defense the Grizzlies need to be alert to the three-point line.
3. Get comfortable: The Grizzlies went from eight low-key preseason games into the crucible of an opener with the Clippers that was akin to hand-to-hand combat. I almost wonder if some players — particularly some who hadn't been part of the playoff series — weren't a little taken aback by the steep increase in intensity. Tonight's game is likely to be a more typical regular-season game and a chance to get into a more comfortable groove for some players.
Deflections: The Grizzlies lost statistical consultant Aaron Barzilai today. As reported by the Sixers site LibertyBallers.com and confirmed via e-mail by Barzilai, the New Jersey-based proprietor of BasketballValue.com has taken a full-time job with the Philadelphia 76ers.
I'm a big fan of Aaron's and will miss having him as an occasional Memphis visitor, but wish him the best on the new job. For the Grizzlies, the combination of losing Barzilai and getting new ownership begs the question of how the new regime will approach analytics. That's a topic — one of many — we can get into starting Monday, when new controlling owner Robert Pera is introduced at FedExForum.