Avoiding Slumps

The Golden State Warriors have been able to remain in playoff position thanks partly to their ability to avoid slumps. The Memphis Grizzlies aren't much of a threat to keep any team in a funk but themselves.

Clinging to eighth place in the Western Conference, the Warriors look to beat the Grizzlies after a loss for the third time this season when the teams meet Saturday night.

Golden State (40-24), trying to make the playoffs in the highly competitive West, needs to avoid losing streaks with the regular season winding down. The Warriors have done a good job of that all season, posting consecutive losses only once since starting the season 0-6.

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After a 123-115 loss to Phoenix on Thursday night, Golden State will again be trying to avoid two straight defeats. A matchup with the lowly Grizzlies (15-49) gives the Warriors a good chance to bounce back.

Golden State has won five straight versus Memphis, and both of its wins over the Grizzlies this season occurred after the Warriors lost a game.

Also, Memphis hasn't posed much of a challenge to most teams all season. The Grizzlies have lost 16 straight on the road and 17 of 19 overall. They are 1-17 against West teams away from FedEx Forum.

That bodes well for Golden State's chances of building its lead over ninth-place Denver and moving closer to catching No. 7 Dallas. The Warriors had won three straight and seven of eight before losing to the Suns.

Baron Davis has been outstanding for Golden State's high-scoring offense over the past two weeks, scoring 30 points or more in four of the team's last six games. He had 38 points, two shy of his career high, versus Phoenix.

On Jan. 11 against the Grizzlies, Davis had 20 points and a career-high 19 assists to lead the Warriors to a 116-104 win.

Monta Ellis also has been a big part of Golden State's playoff push, particularly at Oracle Arena. The third-year guard is averaging 27.8 points while shooting 62.2 percent from the field in his last 16 home games.

Ellis has totaled 50 points in two games versus Memphis this season.

The Grizzlies have played nine straight games against teams battling for playoff position. Their only win during that stretch was on March 5, beating New Jersey 100-93.

Memphis' latest loss was a 108-86 defeat to Denver on Wednesday night.

The Grizzlies made just 35.6 percent from the field and are shooting 39.0 percent over their last three games, all lopsided losses. Poor defense has been just as much of a hindrance for Memphis, allowing an average of 119.7 points in its last three contests.

Against the Nuggets, the Grizzlies allowed 29 fast-break points. They have the worst fast-break defense in the league, allowing 16.2 such points a contest.

"That seems to be a broken record for us," Memphis forward Jason Collins said. "Our transition defense hasn't been good."

Injuries also are beginning to derail the Grizzlies. Starting center Darko Milicic didn't play in the second half against Denver due to a sore right foot. If Milicic can't play, Collins would likely take his spot in the lineup.

Memphis leading scorer Rudy Gay was limited by a left hamstring pull. The second-year swingman finished with nine points, more than 10 below his season average. His status for Saturday's game is uncertain.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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