Snapshot of Game #1: Warriors Basketball played at Warriors pace. Highly efficient offense, hitting open shots and pushing the tempo, forcing the Grizzles into bad shots and controlling the ball on both ends. Easy Golden State win.
Snapshot of Game #2: Grizzlies Basketball played at Grizzlies pace. Each shot clock drained down to it's last second, with no fast breaks or pace. Suffocating defense causing out of rhythm shots and controlling the boards. A defining Grizzlies win.
This game was defined early and often by the grit and control of Mike Conley. The Warriors simply had no answer for the masked point guard who consistently hit dagger after dagger to control the game. He was the direct opposite of the Warriors all night -where the Warriors seemed flustered and missing easy shots, Conley was never rattled even after taking a shot to the head in the 2nd quarter.
The Warriors simply had no counter all night - every Golden State run was countered by a turnover or a hustle shot turned into points. They missed easy baskets, open jumpers and threw the ball into the Grizzles hands all night. Their offense came tonight from Leandro Barbosa and Andrew Bogut on putbacks. Otherwise the Splash Brothers went relatively quiet and ineffective, symbolized by a missed Klay Thompson dunk in transition. The two consistently stared down the refs looking for foul calls where none were going to come.
This has been Memphis's game all year long to impose their will on other teams. They still feature one of the best pairs in the front court in the league, and with a backcourt mate like Mike Conley to give them an outside and penetration threat, it was one-on-one post game offense. This will be the key for the rest of the series; if Memphis can get an early lead, they are next to impossible to catch up to down the stretch because of their control and patience. If the Warriors get the early lead, the pressure they will put on the Grizzlies to score quickly will force them out of their comfort zone.
On a night that Steph Curry received his MVP award, he seemed like he was trying to prove all night that he deserved it. Forcing his shot in transition and never getting into his groove to control the game. From missed free throws to airballed three pointers, Steph was rattled and struggling. He put up a solid 19 points, however on 2 for 11 from behind the arc. Curry will no doubt appreciate getting away from the home crowd and pressure to where he can go back to playing his game and regaining his confidence.
We learned a lot about what it is going to take to win this series, and were confirmed that this will be no walk over for the Warriors. They now head to Memphis, where the Grizzlies play even harder and will have the home crowd behind them. They have now lost that home court advantage they have held so close all season, finally losing a home contest (their last loss was back in January). They will have to steal one on the road to keep the series even before they can bring it back to Oracle.
You can blame the refs for bad calls all you want - the Grizzlies will be getting those calls for the rest of the series so we might as well get use to it. What you can't ignore was the grit of Mike Conley (and Tony Allen who played a hell of a game), the offensive will of Gasol and Randolph, and the sloppy unsettled play of Golden State who could never get their feet right tonight. The good news is they now have 3 days off to think about the tough loss before Saturday's match up, so plenty of time to overthink what went wrong before strapping back up and trying to take back control of this series. For now, tip your hat to Memphis, as they definitely deserved the win tonight.