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Dallas and Portland face off in another huge NBA game this weekend
  1. NBA

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies @ Golden State Warriors Preview

Christmas Day is the highlight of the NBA regular season calendar as some of the best teams and best players are on display. 

Since 1995, the defending champions have been handed a game on Christmas Day and this year that is the Golden State Warriors, who will play Memphis Grizzlies in a rematch from arguably the best playoff series in the Western Conference last season. 

When these fixtures were put together, a Western Conference finals series between these teams may have looked a possibility, but that doesn't look guaranteed at this stage. 

The Grizzlies have picked up where they left off and they are battling it out for the top seed with a 20-11 overall record, level with Denver Nuggets at the top of the conference – but the Dubs are floundering and they are currently outside of the postseason spots altogether in 11th place. 

What: Memphis Grizzlies @ Golden State Warriors 
Where: Fiserv Forum, San Francisco
When: 20:00, Sunday 25th December (Eastern Time)
How to watch: NBA League Pass, ABC, ESPN
Odds: Memphis Grizzlies -170, Golden State Warriors+150 

The backstory  

Golden State overcame Memphis 4-2 in the second round last season after the Grizzlies claimed the second seed and the Dubs finished in third. 

Memphis arguably gave the Dubs their biggest test in the postseason – including their 4-2 Finals Series win over Boston Celtics – as they announced themselves as serious contenders in a packed Western Conference. 

Warriors talisman Stephen Curry felt his team had been pushed to their limits by Memphis during that series and admitted there was an "understanding" within the Golden State team that the six games against the Grizzlies had forced them to raise their game in the postseason. 

Curry also heaped praise on Grizzlies superstar guard Ja Morant, branding him a "problem" despite the fact he missed the final three games of that series as his season was cruelly brought to a premature end due to a knee injury. 

However, ahead of this Christmas Day meeting it is the Warriors who have the injury issues.  

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Curry and other Golden State stars sidelined for Christmas Day match-up 

Golden State will be without Curry for the visit of the Grizzlies due to a shoulder injury that has seen him miss the last four games. Golden State has lost three of those games but their slump predates Curry's injury and going back further, they have just two wins in their last nine games. 

Curry's 'Splash Brother' backcourt partner Klay Thompson may also be unavailable after he missed the defeat to Brooklyn Nets last time out with a knee injury. Forward Andrew Wiggins has been absent with an illness and that means they could be without three regular starters on Christmas Day. 

Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green are also unlikely to play, while veteran Andre Iguodala is a long-term absentee. 

The Grizzlies have virtually a clean bill of health with Danny Green their only confirmed absentee, as Desmond Bane should be involved after returning from a 17-game layoff with a toe issue in the impressive 125-100 win at Phoenix Suns on Friday. 

Home advantage gives Dubs a chance 

This may not be the type of game many were expecting when the fixtures were announced given Golden State's injury problems and Curry's absence, but it should still be a competitive encounter. 

This is Memphis' first chance to take some revenge on the team who ended their championship bid last season and it is also an opportunity to underline their credentials as serious challengers in the West, with the Grizzlies currently looking like the team to beat in the conference. 

Golden State desperately need a win as they bid to reignite their hopes of reaching the playoffs and if they could win on Christmas Day without Curry it would be a big statement. The Dubs may be struggling with a 15-18 overall record – but their issues have largely come on the road and the Chase Center is still a tough hunting ground for visiting teams. 

Golden State has only lost twice at home all season, winning three of their four home games this month. They haven't played in San Francisco since Curry's latest injury setback, but they should still be competitive in this marquee game and that is reflected in the fairly close handicaps in the Point Spread. 

Golden State is -110 with a +5 handicap in the Point Spread and Memphis [-5] is -110.  

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