Warriors-Grizzlies preview: Golden State found their shooting!
Morant reportedly "doubtful" but Memphis gets Brooks back
After two tightly contested battles, the Golden State Warriors finally blew the lid off, with a dominant 30-point blowout of the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. Just a short gap ahead of today’s game means that perhaps the legs of Klay Thompson and Otto Porter won’t be as fresh as game three; but it also means that the knee of Ja Morant doesn’t have much time to return to normal either.
At time of writing, neither team had submitted their injury report for today’s game, but there was some hand waving from Memphis calling Morant “doubtful” for tonight’s game. Like Chuck in the clip below, I’m skeptical that Jordan Poole pulled some sort of Dim Mak, but regardless of how it happened (for what it’s worth, my money is on the initial injury happening on this play at the opening of the 3rd), I’m really wishing the best for Morant, and hoping for a speedy recovery from this.
The big concern is Morant’s health. Gamesmanship aside, this could be an issue that impacts more than a playoff game or two. Recall that the third year player was a game time decision exactly one month ago, with a knee injury that had him on the shelf for an entire month.
Anyways, hopefully this series can stay focused on the court, because we are getting treated to some high level basketball so far — and the pressure is only rising as both teams want this pivotal game four. The Warriors could put a 3-1 stranglehold on the series; the Grizzlies need to show they can hang, and that the 30-point blowout was a fluke event.
WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies
WHEN: Monday May 9th // 7pm(ish) PDT
Warriors lead series 2-1
Golden State’s shooting woke up, can the Grizzlies counter?
When you kick dirt, expect a dust storm.
The Memphis Grizzlies have been holding the Warriors to some unusually cold shooting through the first two games of the series, and coming into game three in San Francisco, many were wondering when the Warriors’ hot hands would come alive. Well, it more than came alive. Golden State’s 142 was the highest scoring output of any Warriors team in the playoffs ever; and it clocks in as one of the best shooting performances of all time.
It wasn’t just the volume that killed Memphis, it was the efficiency. As a team, the Warriors shot better than 60% from the field, 50% from deep, and 90% from the free throw line — becoming just the 2nd team to shoot 60-50-90 or better since such statistics were tracked (the other team was Iverson’s 76ers).
Sorry for the big screen grab, but just take a moment to peruse the team’s shooting from game three. The Warriors shot 52% from three as a team! 9 of 10 at the rim; and a scorching hot 65% on their mid-range shots:
I feel like the voice of Bob Fitzgerald, Warriors announcer, rose out of the ether to proclaim “you can’t win if your opponent shoots like that!” Normally, it’s hyperbole, but in this case, I cannot imagine a way that the Warriors don’t blow out a team like Memphis - or any team - when they get this hot.
What’s perhaps most troubling for Memphis is that there’s no one singular hole to plug.
No, this was finger in the dam as more leaks spring up territory as the Warriors eviscerated Memphis. Against this Golden State offense, defense has to be dialed into all the off ball action, and the relentlessness of a team that doesn’t run plays, so much as they run sequences.
Adding to Memphis’ woes, the scoring load was well distributed. Behind leading scorer, Curry (30 points), the rest of the Warriors trio of sweet-shooting guards all did damage: Poole pitched in 27 off the bench, and Klay had 21 points (and 9 rebounds). Jonathan Kuminga got the start, pitching in with 18 points and some solid defense, and along with Andrew Wiggins (17) and Otto Porter (13) all reached double figures. That’s a lot of problems to figure out.
Can Memphis answer?
That’s the million dollar question right now. And one that is going to get answered about 12 or 13 hours after this article goes live. The Warriors dismantled Memphis in game three, but some of the advantages they used to get there have been well established.
As friend of the DNHQ, Joe Viray wrote after game three, the Warriors have now turned Memphis on their head. Sporting a decisive plus-48 in points in the paint against the Grizzlies, and have out rebounded them in each game.
Dillon Brooks will return after a one-game timeout issued by the league after he clubbed Gary Payton from behind on a breakaway layup attempt, but there’s only so much of his defense to go around. With the Warriors’ scoring distribution in game three, it raises the question of where to put their focus. Assuming Brooks takes the primary ball handler, that still leaves at least two deadly scorers to deal with… and the question of the rebounding, and attempts at the rim.
Could Memphis go big? Assuming Morant is out, all bets are off, and the Grizzlies are going to be throwing stuff at the walls to see what sticks. Steven Adams didn’t see the court in game three till the game was decided, but given coach Steve Kerr’s unwillingness to put two non-shooters out there in Green and Kevon Looney at the same time; going with a front court of Adams and JJJ could force Kerr’s hand (assuming the Warriors’ preferred lineup doesn’t simply run Adams off the court).
Famously, the Grizzlies did well without Morant, in fact he was out for the closing portion of the season that saw them pass the Warriors and take the #2 seed. But these are the playoffs, and it is a hungry Warriors playoff team on the other end of the deal now.
Ladies, gentlemen, and non-binaries of DNHQ, thanks to the tremendous generosity of one of our readers, I will be attending my very first game at Chase tonight! Give me all your tips please! Transportation options (motorcyle parking?), in-arena food or cool things? The reader wishes to remain anonymous, but I am extremely pumped and grateful!!!
Dubs gotta win this one. Take a commanding lead, and help me have a perfect experience for my first time in the new arena.