Game 6 Klay strikes Memphis' season down with righteous indignation; Warriors advance to conference finals
HE'S BACK! And not surprisingly, so are the Warriors...
Well well WELL.
After exploding in the fourth quarter of a Game 6 110-96 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, your Golden State Warriors have knocked off the #2 seed in the Western Conference and are headed back to the conference finals.
And they did it without making a trade for a megastar in the offseason, nor adding an extra big man, despite going without the services of their #2 pick in the 2020 draft James Wiseman. #INTERESTING.
I think it’d be reductive to scream that GSW’s return to glory was as simple as having a healthy Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green all on the floor at the same time. But it is interesting that the last postseason that those three were playing in together, the Warriors were in the NBA Finals (for the fifth straight time). It’s like having three hall-of-famers with elite synergy playing for each other is a recipe for a dynasty, whether or not Kevin Durant or Andrew Bogut is with them.
BTW in case you missed it, here’s that game deciding run where the Warriors decided it was time for these Grizzlies to go straight into offseason hibernation:
(For any music heads, the playlist the DJ was spinning during this dizzying flurry was filled with top notch slappers. The stakes were at the highest and the sounds were super saucy; shout out to friend of DNHQ DJ D-Sharp for giving Chase Center some beautiful vibes as the Warriors extinguished Memphis. The last song on the clip was a reminder that for all the Grit-N-Grind and “whoop that trick” the Grizz were trumpeting, these unintimidated Dubs are really from Oakland tho…)
Wiggins and Loon: a combined $36,757,962 in salary and #1 in your hearts
Damn we sure saw a lotta Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney in that clip, huh? Look, it’s okay to admit if didn’t believe in a starting/closing five including All-Star Wiggs and the Loonster. DNHQ has been analyzing this for some time, a topic touched on by our very own pooryorick, Phood Fight, and DFiB after a loss to the Spurs. And there was some excellent discussion about the issues that arise from having a lack of an extra big man in recap thread after a Nuggets loss.
Wiggins has spent his entire career with GSW in a multiverse of trade scenarios, while Looney was looked at as a hard-working but ultimately insufficient casualty of the FO’s lazy/arrogant approach to big man depth. Surely the front office couldn’t rely on just an injured Wiseman, an aging Draymond Green, and the groundbound Loonster! ORGANIZATIONAL MALPRACTICE.
But can you believe Wiggins swung the game by just doing what the Warriors brought him here to do? Play defense (check), knock down open threes (check), and get out in the open floor with athleticism (check).
With the season on the line, this man Wiggins put up 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks on 7-of-16 shooting from the field, 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. I send a special toast to Dr. Tom and all of you who bought early property on Wiggins Island: we’re visionaries.
Meanwhile, Looney put up the performance of a lifetime grabbing 22 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists. On a team where there’s generationally gifted scorers, Looney is the perfect guy for covering the offensive glass (11 offensive rebounds!) and getting the ball back to those killers.
It’s comforting watching Looney wade his way into a thicket of arms and bodies and somehow ensnare the rebound. But it’s preposterous when he does it 22 times against THE BEST REBOUNDING TEAM IN THE NBA. The Grizz led the league in rebounds per game with 49.0 and had no answer for Looney’s glass dominance.
What was up with that style of play?
The final score doesn’t show it but this game was a smorgasbord of Warriors mistakes. They had some grotesque turnovers that kept stunting their momentum and feeding a desperate Grizzlies team. I know Memphis led the NBA in steals during the regular season, but the Warriors were literally just handing the ball over.
Golden State committed 16 of their 17 turnovers through the first three quarters, many of them being the boneheaded, riding a bicycle down a steep hill into parked cars variety.
And egads they were jacking up threes with a reckless contempt. These dudes were taking the quickest available three in the first half, with “good shot” discernment shelved in favor of “we’re the greatest shooting team of all time, watch us show out”. The Dubs ended up shooting 20-of-53 from beyond the arc. They took 104 total field goal attempts…which means more than half their shots were three-pointers hahahaha.
I kept wondering when they were going to get reigned in and play normal basketball, and I silently stared at the TV whenever interim-coach-soon-to-be-Kings-coach Mike Brown’s face would pop up.
But what if this was not just silly basketball, but a high-speed monster calibrating itself on the fly? What if the Warriors wanted to jack threes and push the pace at every single opportunity even if that resulted in turnovers to force the Grizzlies to burn themselves out AND/OR seduce them into a up-and-down style of basketball they weren’t suited for without the injured star Ja Morant?
Are hideous turnovers and wild deep shot selections byproducts of the Warriors’ eternal hunt for that uptempo rhythm, which once activated, is undefeatable?
At any rate, it’s clear that Golden State feels as much freedom as they do in large part because they can count on having a defense stingy enough to erase mistakes. They hounded the Morant-less Grizz into 35% shooting from the field, forcing Jaren Jackson Jr. into 5-of-19 shooting from the field and teasing antagonist Dillon Brooks into 11-of-28 shooting. Sure he had 30 points, but GSW was more than comfortable letting him throw whatever the hell he wanted up at the rim.
And with all those bricks from both the Grizz and Dubs, it was important for the Golden State to secure the rebounds, which they did in ridiculous fashion.
People doubted the Core 3?!
I can relate to Grizzlies’ fans who may feel cheated that they didn’t see their guy Ja Morant on the floor in a big playoff game. Warriors fans have been tortured in recent years by devastating injury woes.
But let’s also keep in mind that the last time the Warriors saw Morant on the floor, they unleashed a torrential downpour of offensive wizardy and beat the Grizz by 30. The Dubs were also 2-1 against the Grizz with Morant on the court in the playoffs, and if you’re a homer like me you believe it woulda been 3-0 if not for fumbling Game 2 down the stretch.
But the Grizz never said die, and pushed the Warriors to a tough six games.
But what the young Grizz didn’t realize is that by pushing it to a sixth game, they activated the legend of Game 6 Klay Thompson. Thompson led the Warriors with 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks!!!!
How beautiful it was to see Klay out there balling alongside his guys Steph and Dray. Steph added 29 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks(!). Draymond balled out with 14 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 assists. Shame on anyone member of Dub Nation who believed that the Core 3 was finished. SHAME!
Okay, now that we’re back in the Western Conference Finals, can we take a look back at one of the most heated DNHQ Vidcast’s of all time when Patrick Murray, Duby Dub Dubs, and myself discussed last September whether or not the Warriors were “screwed”? I really need DNHQ to confess where they were before the season and where they are now that we’re in the final four! Of course, the Dubs have PLENTY of work ahead of them to get the job done, but they don’t play today.
Let’s talk today, shall we?
So one thing about ACL and Achilles injuries is that players usually look a lot better in their second year back. Based on that we can expect Klay to look even more like himself next year. As a counterpoint, Klay is getting up there in years (in basketball terms only) so I don't know if that will mitigate the effect of more time but I am pretty optimistic that Klay's play will level up next season.
I'm definitely rooting for the Celtics today, perhaps if Middleton was never coming back I'd root for the Bucks but they are playing the Celtics even without their second best player who should be back for a theoretical Warrior matchup plus it's not 100% clear that Robert Williams would be good to go for a Finals series. Either way though, I'd hope that Miami could beat the winner of this game.
Suns/Mavericks is trickier for me, would have said Mavericks a week ago but if CP3 is really this worn out right now, how is he going to look in the WCF where it's a game every other day until it's decided? And I don't think the Suns are anything special if CP3 is mortal. But I don't know, the prospect of homecourt advantage against the Mavericks is pretty nice too.