The Warriors dominated the Grizzlies for three quarters before watching their lead and overall points differential take a hit during garbage time, breathing a sigh of relief when the final buzzer sounded and walking away with the 111-107 victory. For those that didn't watch the game, this was not and should not have been as close as the scoreboard finally read. We will recap this game in two parts:
The Grizzlies came to Oracle quite beat up - Tony Allen has missed time with his bad hamstring and is still hoping to get right before the playoffs. Marc Gasol and Jeff Green were both questionable for the game tonight but played, while Mike Conley had to sit out again with a bad ankle. They found themselves in an absolute deadlock for the 3-6 spots in the playoffs, all jockeying for the easiest trip to the conference finals and hopefully a showdown with these Warriors.
The Warriors came off extra practice and rest during this last gift of a home stand while preparing for their first round playoff matchup. While fighting out of the recent two game losing streak, the team has finally started to have fun again and getting their groove back just in time. Players like Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green need these games to keep their focus locked in while getting their scoring touches back.
Would the Warriors stay locked in while playing for nothing besides bragging rights while the Grizzles were still battling for their playoff spot? The answer was Klay Thompson. Klay outscored the Grizzles himself in the second quarter, netting 37 points by halftime. In fact, he outscored the rest of his own team on his way to 14-18 shooting. Klay was backed up with efficient scoring from his teammates and great defense that kept the Grizzlies to 40% shooting before halftime.
My only complaint about Klay's run in the 2nd quarter is that this team can look so amazingly sloppy at times. They have fun and the highlight reel plays come, but they have the composure of a rec league team when they get excited. These silly turnovers and bad passes shouldn't be happening this late in the season, no matter how pointless the games are. As everyone at Oracle knew that the ball was being forced to Klay every time, the team started making bad passes and simple mistakes. It is all fun to watch, but it could have been a bit cleaner.
Let's get back to the game though - this matchup looks and feels different when Bogut plays. So often in the past you had to face Gasol and ZBo with no anchor in the middle. What is telling about the last two decisive wins over the Grizzles has been the shutting down of the big men down low. Sure, with Conley out they didn't have much choice, but the Grizzles already-anemic offense looked even worse tonight.
After their injuries, the Grizzles carted out the collection of JaMychal Green, Beno Udrich, Jordan Adams and crew while the Warriors still kept the starters in regular rotation. The conversation would include on TV the concept of rest vs rust; remember the number of games this year that Curry hasn't played in the 4th quarter (18). Credit can be given to the coaching staff for balancing out minutes well, but it becomes easy when the Warriors are regularly up double digits by the middle of the third.
My opinion: I watched highlights of the Trailblazers vs Thunder tonight and watched Nicholas Batum and C.J. McCollum go down with injuries. While the Trailblazers are still fighting for a spot and can't rest players, it is a reminder that stars can hurt at any time. I watch this team with crossed fingers and slightly held breath hoping every time a player hits the ground that it's not a pulled hamstring or rolled ankle.
In the end, the Starters would leave the game with a 32 point lead midway through the third, fully dismantling this Grizz team who isn't far off looking like the decisive two-seed in the west. They now face the real fear of dropping out of home court advantage for the first round, which puts their title hopes even that much farther away.
Since nobody cares or should care about garbage time in a meaningless game for the Warriors, I am going to keep this short. The bench looked like trash, and shouldn't have with an ex-All Star out on the court (David Lee) and a key backup in the rotation (Shawn Livingston). The team got very close to putting the starters back in as Jordan Adams and Russ Smith dominated the fourth quarter (overall 41-18 scoring), but in the end the punishment might have been more fitting to have to stay in and finish the game themselves. As we all watched Brandon Rush and David Lee clank free throws, I'm sure Steve Kerr was looking down the bench with an itchy trigger finger waiting to put back in Klay or Steph to finish it off, but ended up letting the crew that got themselves into trouble find a way to finish it. Let's hope tape of the fourth quarter is destroyed and never watched again.
Bring on the playoffs - it's fun to watch Klay go off, but save em for when it counts buddy. The season wraps Wednesday and I sure hope that no starter plays more than 15 minutes tops. I am already pressing my Curry Jersey and prepping my watching location (Finnertys in New York) for game one. So forget the fourth quarter of this game ever happened and convince yourself the Warriors won by thirty. Now let's play games that count.