In 2015-16, the Warriors beat them down by 50 points early on, then met them twice right at the end, winning the first on a Draymond Green late tip in. Of course the final game was the clincher for 73 with Steph hitting eight three pointers to put him on 402 for the season.
So there was plenty to live up to in this matchup.
But this wasn’t one of those classic battles.
Indeed, in a perfect metaphor for the Warriors preseason-like conditioning, the Warriors were called for a delay of game warning at the beginning of the second half for not being ready when the horn sounded.
The first half: Referees and rotations
The Memphis Grizzlies have undergone some changes, losing ‘grit and grind’ core identity pieces Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, and trying to move to a more uptempo system. But they are still a disciplined, professional squad so you better be ready when you come into Memphis.
The Warriors opened definitely looking more alive from the start than the previous night. Then again, there’s probably been corpses more lively than how they started out against the Pelicans.
But in an ominous sign it became clear pretty quickly the refs were calling this one tight.
On the one hand, this meant Steph and Durant getting to the line a fair bit. Indeed, if you like free throws this was a game for you.
On the other it meant there wasn’t much room for maneuver with dumb ass fouls. More on that later, but suffice to say it was no accident Steph Curry finished the quarter with three fouls.
The preseason-feel continued for the Warriors with coach Steve Kerr still experimenting with rotations throughout the first quarter. In the first quarter Kerr rolled out a lineup with Steph and no other scorer. Unsurprisingly, they did not look great on the offensive end.
The second quarter opened with a familiar second unit — Shaun Livingston, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Durant, and David West. While Durant opened strong, this was the unit they went away from halfway through last season when it just couldn’t get going.
The big challenge they had in this switch was it left them with not enough scoring on the second unit, which is why they brought in Nick Young. But Swaggy P was nowhere to be seen in the first half.
Honestly, it’s a little frustrating to see them going back to units they know are not the most effective. The point of experimentation is to try new stuff, not repeat old mistakes.
As an aside, few things are more annoying than Mario Chalmers. It’s great to see him back in the NBA etc, etc, after injury, but man that guy flops. Check this nonsense out—he should play for Houston.
Hater: "KD can't back down in the post...." nvm pic.twitter.com/Hj7waacLRx— NBCS Warriors News (@NBCSWarriors) October 22, 2017
Anyway the Warriors didn’t look good for much of the first half. On defense they were jumping, reaching and not rotating.
On offense while they created some good looks they couldn’t knock them down, and they were still a bit sloppy with the passing. At one point Draymond Green mistook Pat McCaw for Javale McGee on fast break, throwing an alleyoop to nowhere in particular.
Did Draymond just think McCaw was someone else?— Danny Leroux (@DannyLeroux) October 22, 2017
Then Steph Curry re-entered the game and hit two threes off the dribble. Were we going to see some pyrotechnics?
No. A dumb ass foul puts him on four fouls.
Oh hey, Steph Curry reached again— Danny Leroux (@DannyLeroux) October 22, 2017
After the foul trouble in the opener this is something to watch going forwards. Noted Steph Curry chronicler Marcus Thompson has already written a piece this season about his tendency to reach.
In a developing trend for this game dumb ass fouls continue with the Grizzlies in the limit. But Durant is doing work getting to the line, so it’s not all one way.
Somehow the Warriors are only down 5.
This is another one of those first halves where you think the Warriors are down big, then you check the score and it's a five-point game.— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) October 22, 2017
The second half opens with some promise. Steph comes out firing, then steals the ball and knocks it off a Grizzlie.
But it’s all a bit of a mirage. After a defensive breakdown Kerr calls a quick timeout. It looked like the Warriors have had enough midway through the third.
The Grizzlies rip off a 13-0 run, including back to back transition alleyoops.
This is why the Warriors lost pic.twitter.com/pCDYcEUYq7— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) October 22, 2017
Then our friend ‘dumb ass fouls’ returns. Green grabs Marc Gasol’s jersey, and then sets an illegal screen up top just as the Warriors start to get some momentum on offense.
Mario Chalmers starts flopping again. On his second egregious flop attempt Chalmers succeeds in getting Curry his fifth foul. But that’s why you don’t reach on every single thing and put yourself in that position…
The Grizzlies finished a disastrous third quarter up 17.
In the fourth the Warriors battled back but disintegrated in a flurry of fouls. Finally it all got too much, Curry threw his mouthpiece and controversially both he and Durant got tossed out of the game.
Credit is due for keeping going on a back to back, while still in preseason shape. But it wasn’t enough against a well-coached team, featuring Marc Gasol channelling his inner Steph Curry.
Seriously, he was fantastic.
For what it’s worth my Warrior Wonder for tonight was ‘dumb-ass fouls’.
But let’s get some post-game takes. For starters here’s an unsettling stat...
Warriors defensive rating through three games: 110.5— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 22, 2017
Steve Kerr on rotations
Steve Kerr blames himself for not finding right combinations, not injecting enough joy/laughter early in season pic.twitter.com/PjOx4qFOXk— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 22, 2017
And on Steph’s fouls
Steve Kerr on Steph Curry's foul issues early in the season pic.twitter.com/p9XB9FzMZG— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 22, 2017
Of course the big question is what punishment Curry will get for throwing his mouthpiece around.
Curry didn’t throw it at the ref. But if I were him I’d be worried the NBA wants to teach him a lesson about throwing it at all— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) October 22, 2017
Oh well, back the bay. Can’t be too mad about a loss on a back-to-back against a good team while the Warriors are still working themselves into regular shape.
Who was the Warrior Wonder against the Grizzlies?
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