For the second consecutive year, the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies will face off to determine each other’s NBA playoff fortunes.
While Stephen Curry and Draymond Green carried the Warriors without Klay Thompson as well as a young and unproven roster, the Grizzlies were eager to prove they should be taken seriously.
A year later, the landscape has changed already between both teams as they prepare for a semifinals matchup.
The Grizzlies host the Warriors in Game 1 on Sunday (3:30 ET on ABC) as a viable championship contender.
Though it took the Grizzlies six games to eliminate the seventh-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, the Grizzlies have a strong blend of young talent that possess remarkable maturity including two dynamic scorers and playmakers (Ja Morant, Desmond Bane) as well as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate (Jaren Jackson Jr.).
As for the Warriors, they have the familiar characters that helped them win three NBA titles in five Finals appearances.
They have arguably the NBA’s best shooter (Curry), the league’s second-best shooter (Thompson), the league’s best defender when healthy (Green) and an elder statesman still eager to show his playoff value (Andre Iguodala).
But they also have returned to the playoffs because they have struck a good balance between blending their championship-tested players with an otherwise young roster.
Third-year-guard Jordan Poole has become the most notable character after emerging as a darkhorse Most Improved Player candidate a year after spending time in the G League.
All of which should make for a compelling series filled with twists and turns.