OAKLAND -- Presuming the Warriors make the playoffs, you know that they hope the current seeding doesn't stick.
If they did, that would pair the Warriors against Memphis. And after the Grizzlies manhandled the Warriors on Wednesday night, 94-87, that matchup doesn't look good for Golden State.
"They're an experienced team, a veteran team," Warriors point guard Stephen Curry said. "They've had many experiences in the playoffs, grinding out games. They have pretty much the same unit back that they've had the last two or three years. You have to play a smart, efficient 48 minutes to beat them, either at home or on the road. They know how to play together."
It was Golden State's eighth consecutive loss to Memphis, which used its size and physicality to wear down the Warriors. Coming off the embarrassing loss to the host Los Angeles Clippers, having three days to stew, boasting a 9-1 record after a loss, you'd figure Golden State would come out ready to make a statement.
But the Warriors ran into a brick wall. Led by forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol, who combined for 31 points and 21 rebounds, Memphis was just too much inside. The Grizzles had 60 points in the paint, the most the Warriors have given up all season.
"They have possibly the best front line in the NBA," Warriors forward David Lee said after totaling 14 points on 14 shots with 10 rebounds. "They have depth on the front line, and athletic wings to go a long
The Warriors also didn't knock down enough shots. They were 46.5 percent from the field, including 7 of 17 from 3-point range. But thanks largely to turnovers (15) and the grinding pace of the game, Golden State took 17 fewer shots than Memphis. Usually, the Warriors get more shots than their opponent.
Curry sat at his locker shaking his head at the disparity in attempts.
"If they shoot 17 extra shots," said Curry, who had a team-high 24 points, "with the team that they have, it's going to be tough to beat them."
Golden State (22-12) lost consecutive games for the first time since early November. But for a moment, it looked as if the Warriors had a chance to pull it out late.
After trailing by as much as 14 points in the first half, the Warriors trailed by five midway through the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by Curry and two free throws by Klay Thompson tied the game at 82 with 3:32 left.
But Memphis answered by going inside, and Gasol muscled in a layup. Moments later, a turnover by Thompson led to two free throws by the Grizzlies' Mike Conley Jr.
The next time down, the Warriors' Jarrett Jack had his pull-up jumper blocked, which turned into a layup by Conley. Golden State was down six inside of two minutes left.
After a timeout, Lee converted a jumper. But Rudy Gay answered with one of his own.
A 3-pointer by Curry cut the deficit to 90-87 with 40 seconds left. But the Grizzlies went right to Randolph, who drew a foul and knocked down the free throws.
The Warriors had no answer for the interior dominance of Memphis (23-10). The Grizzlies grabbed seven offensive rebounds and outscored the Warriors 20-4 in the paint in the fourth quarter.
"We battled, and we made some tough plays," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "I thought we did not seal off our possessions defensively. Down the stretch, they got some offensive rebounds that really hurt us. ... They execute you to death and playing them will force you to get better."
Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday that Memphis and Phoenix are engaged in trade talks and that the Grizzlies are shopping Gay.
Sources confirmed the Warriors received a call from Memphis, but the discussion about the small forward didn't progress because Memphis -- looking to cut salary, get young talent and draft picks -- had no interest in taking the Warriors' Richard Jefferson, one league source said. And Golden State doesn't have any draft picks to give.
But the improbability of the trade didn't stamp out the intrigue. Not even for Gay.
"Hey, anything can happen," Gay said about the prospect of playing for Golden State, smiling as he headed to warm-ups Wednesday at Oracle Arena.
For any such trade to happen, it stands to reason Jefferson or Andris Biedrins to be involved. The Warriors are not going to take on a big contract without giving up one of those two. And Gay certainly qualifies as a big contract. He's due $16.4 million this year and $37.1 million more over the next two seasons.
"There are going to be rumors because that's the nature of the business," Jackson said. "I don't address it. We are a team. We are together. We have a purpose. We are not going to get caught up with anything that is not our goal."
Gay boasts a rare ability the Warriors could definitely use. He's an exceptional athlete who is a load in transition.
It may not be enough for the Warriors to pull the trigger on Gay. But it certainly sounds like his days in Memphis are numbered.
"There are very few players who play on one team for their whole career," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "You just do what you do with that team for as long as you're there."
Portland (19-15) at Warriors (22-12), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA