Warriors don’t aim to mess around in Game 6 

OAKLAND — The fates of two teams changed in the Western Conference semifinals, seemingly with one announcement on a TNT broadcast.

The question now is: With the Memphis Grizzlies trailing 3-2 in the series, is there anything they can do to beat the Warriors and stave off elimination at the FedExForum tonight.

“We would love to win it on the road,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I mean, you always have to try to get it done when you can. You don’t want to mess around. You never know what can happen.”

First, harken back to halftime of Game 3 in Memphis, where the Warriors trailed by 17 in a game they would eventually lose 98-89. At the start of the third quarter, Kerr announced his intentions to the television world — his team was going to start doubling the Grizzlies big men, hoping to coax his free-flowing team out of its Beale Street slumber.

It worked. The Warriors stormed back in the second half, trimming the deficit to four and flirting with victory.

In that instant, the cat-and-mouse game began — call it NBA game theory — and the Warriors seemingly have transformed in the 10 quarters since then.

A game later came the decision to have center Andrew Bogut guard no one basically. Then in Game 5, the Grizzlies’ Tony Allen sat with his aggravated hamstring, forcing Jeff Green into the starting five. Like Mike Conley’s Game 2 reappearance, there are no opportunities like the ones created or destroyed through injury.

“Everybody was saying we couldn’t score because Tony Allen was on the floor, and we put up 78 without him,” coach Dave Joerger said.

Where Joerger goes now is decidedly murky. His options are limited with few kitchen sinks to be thrown at a Warriors offense two nights removed from making 14 of 30 3-pointers and fewer still offensive alterations to shake up his ground-and-pound attack.

Such is life for an old-school team in a new-school league, with two talented bigs in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, a banged-up point guard in Conley, a highly athletic but oddly conventional wing player in Courtney Lee who has trouble creating his own shot and Green, a ball-heavy, skilled-yet-inconsistent forward who is a poor fit in the Grizzlies’ halfcourt offense.

At the very least, Allen has pledged to play tonight, and if he does, Mr. First-Team All-Defense will be asked to facilitate and generate more offense from the elbows, an added wrinkle or answer to the sag-off defense. At the very least, he will limit the minutes of the overmatched Nick Calathes, who has yet to score in the series.

Even still, the imposing strength of Randolph and Gasol has looked largely neutralized with the doubling scheme that dares Randolph to be creative.

So what’s left for Joerger? He could try starting veteran Beno Udrih in place of Green to give the offense two ball-handlers, better rhythm and more shooting. Or he could keep center Kostas Koufos on the bench to better combat the Warriors’ smaller lineups. Defensively, the Grizzlies could try doubling Stephen Curry from the outset or even resort to Hack-a-Bogut to guarantee the Warriors won’t shoot the 3.

Meanwhile, Kerr’s deck looks flush with Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and David Lee in righteous form off the bench.

“It’s pick your poison,” Joerger said. “Their bench has been tremendous. I don’t think Shaun Livingston gets the credit he deserves as a low-length defender and he gives them stability. Harrison Barnes is quietly having a tremendous series and doesn’t get enough credit. I think Iguodala knocking in 3s gives them another guy that they have out there spacing the floor, knocking them in.” “Certainly Steph and Klay get a lot of attention, so all those other guys get to lick their fingers and line them up.”

Joerger’s starters have proven themselves somewhat than capable of keeping up and slowing down the sprinting Warriors attack. Not to mention the missed opportunities of loose balls and hustle plays in Game 5 that went begging, at least of few of which could well change tonight should Memphis bring the requisite energy.

“They got to every one of them,” Joerger said. “They laid their bodies out. We stood and watched a lot. Balls bouncing around that they get, and again, they torture you because it’s another free look that they get and another free shot. So it’s easier to get in rhythm the more shots you get, and those extra shots that they’re taking and our defense just keep wearing you down.”

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Jack Ross

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