SAN FRANCISCO -- As Golden State Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry took his seat at the podium, he was asked about heading to Memphis for the first two games of the Western Conference Semifinals as the older team, taking on the young, rising team. Before the entirety of the question could be asked, Curry interjected.
"I'm still a kid at heart," he said. "Youthful spirits."
Sure, Curry can still pass as the Baby-faced Assassin, but the truth of the matter is: The Warriors are the old team -- or veteran team, if you will. They are the experienced team. The team that -- despite having a few young players who have never experienced the playoffs before this season -- has a core that has been around the block.
The Grizzlies, on the other hand, never have. It's a team that's reminiscent of the Warriors as they started the climb into their dynastic era.
"In terms of having the young core, and trying to make that next step, winning a playoff series ... we were right in that window," Curry said. "We were having some success, but not quite getting the job done."
Led by Ja Morant and supported by Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke, the Grizzlies are the second-youngest team in the league this season, with an average age of 24. Their oldest players are Steven Adams and Kyle Anderson -- both 28 years old.
The way they have constructed their young roster also reminds the Warriors of their group that faced San Antonio in the second round of the playoffs in 2013 and the LA Clippers in the first round in 2014 before winning the 2014-15 title.
Two years ago, the Grizzlies were just another team in the NBA, finishing ninth in Western Conference before COVID-19 suspended the season. Last season, they were the eighth seed and edged out the Warriors in the play-in game before falling to the Utah Jazz in five games. This season, they finished with the second-best record in the league.
"They've built a foundation over the last few years through player development, through really smart drafting, investment, and they are really well coached," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
"If you paid attention, you could see what was happening through their player development. Ja, right away was great, but has gotten a lot better. Most Improved Player this year. You get guys like [Dillon] Brooks and [Brandon] Clarke who are young players who have grown by leaps and bounds. I just really admire what Memphis has done, organizationally."
The last time Golden State faced Memphis in a playoff series, it was also the Western Conference Semifinals. But it was 2015. The Grizzlies were the older, more established team, led by Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
But that series was a turning point for the Warriors, who went on to win the title that season. As they head into the series against the team that knocked them out of the postseason a year ago, the Warriors see bits of themselves in the Grizzlies. But, they want to make sure they don't allow Memphis to have quite the same assertion they did when they beat them on their way to a championship.
"All throughout those three years, we learned a lot about ourselves," Curry said, reflecting on the years leading up to their title run. "And I'm sure that's what they're going through. We don't want them to learn too much, though."