Warriors show growth, shed crunchtime woes in emphatic win over Memphis
In the biggest game of the year Golden State proved they can win in a high-pressure clutch situation.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the Golden State Warriors won their biggest game of the season (so far), knocking off the feisty Memphis Grizzlies 113-101 in front of a raucous limited capacity crowd in San Francisco. That season finale stamped some impressive accolades for the team:
#1 in assists (27.7 per game).
#1 AST/TO ratio in league (2.06).
#6 in steals (8.8 per game).
#9 in 3PT% (37.6%).
#5 in defensive rating (109.4). Fun fact: this team has a higher DRTG than the 2018-2019 Warrior aka the last GSW squad to make the Finals. (Although in that team’s defense, they didn’t really give a damn about the regular season).
Stephen Curry’s 46 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists were the final brushstroke on the regular season masterpiece he painted. We just witnessed arguably his greatest season considering how destroyed this team’s depth chart has been, starting when his beloved Splash Bro Klay Thompson was wiped out for the season on draft day.
The franchise’s quarterback and enforcer Draymond Green just missed a triple-double, tallying 14-9-9 with a steal and 2 blocks. He becomes the first qualifying player (minutes-wise) to have more rebounds and assists than points for a season. Green averaged 7.0 PPG, 7.1 REB, and 8.9 AST. That assist average puts Green at 4th highest in the league in dimes; can you believe that’s higher than Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, and Damian Lillard?!
The redemption arc of Andrew Wiggins has been long but bends towards victory. The former #1 pick was labeled an overpriced bust because he couldn’t rescue Minnesota from basketball hell (who can?) but has flourished in Golden State’s organization with career-high efficiency and hellacious defense. He scored 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting last night with 10 rebounds with a couple big time slam dunks that nearly blew the roof off the arena.Andrew Wiggins' final regular season numbers: -18.6 points -4.9 rebounds -47.7 percent overall (career high) -38 percent on 3s (career high) -71.4 percent on FTs (best since 2016-17) -Best defense of his career by far
Whoa, Wiggins had a slightly better shooting percentage from long range (38%) than elite snipers J.J. Redick (37%), Tyler Herro (36%) bahahaha.
So yeah, there’s a lotta gaudy numbers that we can talk about. Not bad for a team that is near the top of the NBA in most games missed by injured players. But numbers don’t show HEART!
I’d like to discuss a specific sequence of events from yesterday’s battle for the 8th spot that revealed the newfound resolve and galvanized camaraderie of this depleted Warriors unit.
The suffering was worth it
This season of Golden State basketball has featured some depressing growing pains, with much of the bad vibes coming from late-game collapses that wearied the soul:
126-114 loss to Minnesota; held a 91-89 lead after 3Q.
118-114 loss to Washington; led 104-93 with 5:53 left in 4Q.
119-114 loss to Boston; led 109-103 with 3:40 remaining in 4Q.
110-107 loss to Washington; held a 107-104 lead with 19 seconds left in 4Q.
117-111 loss to Atlanta; led 84-81 with 11 minutes left in 4Q.
In yesterday’s game the Warriors appeared to have put the Grizzlies away early with a 3rd quarter bombardment that was reminiscent of the unstoppable onslaughts of dynasty dominations past.
Unfortunately the Grizzlies roared back, not content to concede the 8th seed so easily to a thin GSW team only playing eight players. A Jonas Valanciunas tip shot gave Memphis a 97-95 lead with 4:49 remaining in the final period, capping a monumental 28-9 Grizzly run. This is the specific type of situation the Warriors had often failed to survive this year: crunch time execution.
But this time, with the world watching and a nervous Dub Nation willing them forward, these Warriors shook off their funk and answered with a vicious show of resilience. Let’s a look!
Deep end of the Poole
The Unanimous One Curry dribbles close to the basket and draws a crowd. And by a crowd I mean ALL FIVE MEMPHIS DEFENDERS ARE STANDING IN THE PAINT. But they forgot Curry is an unselfish point guard who relishes feeding his teammates for big shots. Jordan Poole deftly relocates to the corner while Curry distracts Memphis and the ball finds him.
This is a shot that would have made me cringe last year based on Poole’s lackluster rookie season. But he’s put the work in to develop a gold-blooded offensive repertoire and now Curry and Coach Steve Kerr trust him to make big shots. HUGE bucket here to take the 98-97 lead.
The Wiggins Putback
After a missed Grizzly three-pointer the Dubs go back to their old faithful play: the post split cut. This is a staple of the Warriors offense going back to when Kerr first took over the team and despite claims that this scheme is outdated, it made some good things happen for the Dubs. Green has the ball in the post, Kevon Looney lumbers out to blast Curry’s defender with a pick, and Curry catches the pass ready to shoot.
And he misses…
BUT WIGGINS WAS THERE FOR THE BIG TIME PUTBACK JAM! SHOW ‘EM THE ATHLETICISM WIGGS! This jam forced Memphis into a timeout and reenergized the Dubs, giving them a 100-98 lead.
Steph is THE ONE
Out of the timeout, Green steals the ball and the Warriors run their staple play again.
103-97 Warriors. At this point it was clear they smelled blood in the water. Green blocked Ja Morant on the other end and the Grizz missed another trey. Poole missed a DEEP three but got his own rebound #hustle. He found Green at the top of the arc, who immediately searched for Curry.
Lmao Curry scampering free from defenders that far from the basket has to be maddening for the other team. 106-97 Warriors.
Morant couldn’t answer with a three of his own on the other end, and that set the stage for Curry’s final dagger.
Incredible. In the blink of an eye the Warriors ripped off a 14-0 run to make sure the game was over. Over the last 4:30 of the game they shackled Memphis to 2-of-10 shooting! The combination of hustle plays, stout defense, and offensive confidence buried the Grizzlies in crunchtime. This is what Dub Nation has been hungering for all season and it’s what Coach Kerr has been grooming this team for.
This squad seemed dead in the water as recently as a month ago. Golden State took all the pain from tough lessons and grew from it to end the regular season campaign on a high note. You gotta love a story of an underdog coming back from being down and out to overcoming the odds!
Whooo we made the play-in tournament! Who is next on the schedule? Wait, LEBRON JAMES, ANTHONY DAVIS, AND THE DEFENDING CHAMPION LOS ANGELES LAKERS? What the heck are they doing down here at the bottom of the playoff bracket? Ruh roh, it’s time to huddle up and talk strategy Dub Nation.
How can these Warriors accomplish the unthinkable, AGAIN? I guess as long as we have Stephen Curry, we’ve got a chance.