The Memphis Grizzlies will test their new up-tempo style against the best defense the NBA had to offer last season when they attempt to open 2-0 at home at the expense of the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
The Grizzlies dazzled the home crowd with 103 points, up 2 1/2 from last year’s 29th-in-the-league scoring average despite playing with three new starters in their 103-91 home-opening win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
Memphis took eight more shots, including two more 3-pointers, than last year’s averages, both of which also ranked in the bottom 10 in the league.
The faster pace plays to the preferred style of point guard Mike Conley, who hit nine of his 15 shots and four of his nine 3-point attempts in a 27-point opener.
Conley worked best with rookie Dillon Brooks, a former Oregon standout who was still on the board when the Grizzlies made the 45th pick of the second round in June.
Brooks came off the bench to pour in 19 points in 29 minutes. More impressive is the fact that the Grizzlies were a plus-17 on the scoreboard while he was on the court.
“Man, somebody made a mistake not drafting (Brooks earlier),” Conley said after the game.
The Grizzlies, who have had two days off, will be facing a Warriors team that began a road back-to-back with a 128-120 win over New Orleans in the Pelicans’ home opener on Friday night.
The Warriors, coming off a home loss to Houston on Tuesday, had to rally from 15 down to subdue the Pelicans, getting a combined 61 points from their All-Star backcourt of Klay Thompson (33 points) and Stephen Curry (28).
Memphis played Golden State as well as anybody last season, handing the Warriors two of their 15 regular-season losses, including a 110-89 drubbing last December at the FedExForum.
The Warriors survived an early-season scare when Draymond Green was able to return to action in New Orleans after leaving the Houston game in the third quarter with a strained knee.
An MRI was negative and Green was back in the starting lineup against the Pelicans, logging 36 minutes and chipping in eight points, seven assists and five rebounds to the hard-fought win.
Nonetheless, the Warriors once again did not play like champions, coach Steve Kerr said afterward.
“We’re just not ready to put together a complete game,” he said. “We’re basically still in training camp. We’re still working on everything and that’s pretty obvious.”
Super-sub Andre Iguodala also returned for the Warriors against the Pelicans, after having missed the opener with a sore back. He had a productive 24 minutes, registering seven points, seven rebounds and four assists.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, will be the team hurting a bit Saturday night. Starting forward JaMichael Green sprained his left ankle four minutes into the opening game and had to leave the contest.
He likely will be out at least through the end of the month.
Green had been one of just three holdover starters, joining Conley and center Marc Gasol, in the wake of veterans Zach Randolph and Tony Allen leaving the team in the offseason.
Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out in the win over New Orleans.