"If you don't have extra emotion in this game, I question your ticker."
Draymond Green, sounding like he quoted something from 300, effectively encapsulated how the Golden State Warriors played in their 100-93 victory on Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. From Stephen Curry flexing for several seconds after a made three late in the fourth quarter or sprinting into the backcourt after an and-one trey to Draymond Green feeding off the energy to grab rebound after rebound over the Marc Gasols and Zach Randolphs of the world, it felt like the Warriors were fighting every instinct in their bodies to simply remain somewhat composed.
Thrown a towel to wipe off the residual sweat from a crazed, maniacal game, Green harped on refusing to allow the Grizzlies to come into their building and do to them what Grit n Grind does to so many other helpless squads. The Warriors dominated the boards 43-33.
"One thing about ZBO is he never stops moving. If the ball is on one side of the court, you know he's on the other side, on the low block, wedging for position. Whether it's a rebound or a swing, duck-in. You can't relax."
Masked by the cliche'd phrases of being a competitor, playoff atmosphere and sibling rivalry (Green compares Zach Randolph to a big brother), Green is both a ferocious and highly intelligent basketball player. After a first half in which the Grizzlies got what they wanted, especially from isos from Randolph, Green came back in the second half, working even harder off the ball. He didn't necessarily move Randolph to different spots of the floor but the combined amount of jostling adds up to a more tired player trying to work nonstop in the post.
In one telling sequence, Green forced a miss, snatched a rebound in a mob of five people after a tip, sprinted downcourt, and without missing a beat, nailed a wide-open three. Undersized, unable to shoot, Draymond Green was the turning point on defense against two bigs that routinely run roughshod over David Lee.
Stephen Curry poured in 33 points on 13-22 (5-8 from distance) shots with eight assists to go along with just two blocks and just three turnovers. And somehow, the numbers barely scratched the surface on how much he meant to this game. He could have easily had 15 assists if Jermaine O'Neal, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson had made some open shots.
Regardless, there were extra antics after made shots, punctuated by fist pump after fist pump, chest gesticulations and crowd waves. With just 10 games left in the season and the Warriors clinging to a postseason berth, Postseason Curry is making an early appearance. That's not a nickname, I don't think.
1. Apologies for making this recap so Green-centric but besides Curry, this was his game tonight. On several possessions, he grabbed a rebound and sprinted downcourt without even looking for an outlet pass. Early in the first half, he got the ball to Steve Blake on the wing, who got it to Jordan Crawford in the corner, who in turn flipped it to O'Neal for a layup. There were still 18 seconds left on the shot clock. All started by Green's rebound and transition push.
Curry also gestured angrily at Speights on one occasion in the second half for taking his time inbounding the ball. The Warriors slowed a bit in the second half but it appears they're trying to go more up-tempo. Either that or the long layoff got them some fresh legs. I wish I could have gotten that question in.
2. Bogut took a knee to the groin from Gasol early in the game and limped around for a couple seconds before checking out and quickly being ruled out of the game. A pelvic contusion, according to Google, could sideline a player for a week. Or two. Or a month. Or two months. Google Doctors always coming through.
3. With the New York Knicks (lol) coming in Sunday, the Warriors are one game behind the Portland Trail Blazers in the five spot and 1.5 and 2 games ahead of the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively. Every game is a must-win game at this point.