Grizzlies vs. Warriors preview: Dark-horse contenders face off in Oakland

USA TODAY Sports

Can the Warriors pass the Grizzlies in the Western Conference standings with a win on Wednesday night?

The Memphis Grizzlies visit the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night in a big contest between two of the Western Conference's second-tier contenders. With the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs emerging as the cream of the conference, both teams are hoping to stay in the championship hunt this spring.

Offense vs. Defense

More specifically, the Warriors' offense vs. the Grizzlies' defense.

While both the Grizzlies and Warriors lack the kind of star power that the West's top teams boast, they're both deep, talented squads, albeit with very different styles. Memphis is arguably the best defensive team in the NBA, while the Warriors have one of the league's most dynamic offenses.

Between Tony Allen and Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies feature two of the best defenders in the entire league. Add some athletic defenders like Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Darrell Arthur to the mixture, sprinkle in some solid coaching, and you have the Grizzlies, the second-best defense in the league per 100 possessions.

The Warriors can't match the Grizzlies' defensive prowess on offense, but they do have a diversified attack that includes quality shooters like Stephen Curry, as well as premier post options like David Lee and Carl Landry. That unique ability to attack defense in a multitude of ways could yield some seriously intriguing matchups on Wednesday.

A Tale of Two Inconsistent Teams

Since a shaky start to the season, the Warriors have been one of the hottest teams in the league, emerging as arguably the most surprisingly good team in the NBA. Since a loss to the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 22, the Warriors have gone 15-5, beating quality teams like the Clippers and the Miami Heat along the way.

Memphis has essentially gone in the opposite direction, sliding back a bit after a red-hot start, but the Grizzlies are still a half-game ahead of the Warriors in the standings. They've won three of their last four games, but a 10-8 record since the beginning of December is underwhelming for a team that was seemingly crashing into that top tier a month ago.

Time: Wednesday's game begins at 10:30 p.m. ET from Oracle Arena.

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