The Golden State Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies by a score of 117-116 in a thrilling Game 1 matchup to start the Western Conference Semifinals. Highlight plays, great execution on both sides of the floor, and trash talking — this game had everything that makes playoff basketball great. Unfortunately, the referees became the story of this one as fouls were a problem for both teams, including the most significant call of the game — a Flagrant 2 on Draymond Green that ejected him near the end of the first half. Despite this, the Warriors played inspired basketball and stormed back in the second half as the Dubs pulled away with the narrow victory.
Here are some of the takeaways from the Warriors postgame pressers:
Draymond Green’s Flagrant 2
The big storyline from this game was the controversial Flagrant 2 called on Draymond Green at the end of the first half. Head coach Steve Kerr did not go after the refs during his postgame presser, and instead decided to briefly mention it and move on. The same could be said for the rest of the Warriors players, except for Draymond Green who discussed the foul call on his podcast shortly after the game.
Here is the official referee explanation as well as thoughts from both players and coaches on the play:
Your pool report explaining the refs' reasoning for giving Draymond Green a flagrant-2: pic.twitter.com/boFsQ5DXSE— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) May 1, 2022
Draymond responds to his Game 1 ejection: “Tonight was a probably reputation thing”pic.twitter.com/DOIc7DOopi— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 2, 2022
Draymond: “One thing about that foul is, I actually tried to hold him up.”— Dalton Johnson (@DaltonJ_Johnson) May 2, 2022
He’s not wrong, and that’s why it’s egregious that the ref says Draymond was ejected for throwing Brandon Clarke to the ground. Full link: https://t.co/mSMjOGlIxJ pic.twitter.com/GCY2qytoir
Klay, Jordan, and Steve react to Draymond's ejection: pic.twitter.com/j3s575c99B— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) May 1, 2022
The explanation Kerr received from officials on Draymond's ejection:— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 1, 2022
"He hit him in the face and threw him to the ground" pic.twitter.com/CW6XbaMjAW
They didn't say it at the podium, but the Warriors are absolutely seething privately (and let a little of it get out publicly) about the Draymond ejection, the Curry charge call that wasn't overturned and several other calls and non-calls. But seething with smiles after the W.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) May 2, 2022
Steve Kerr Discusses the Game
Kerr came into this game with a clear defensive plan to slow down Grizzlies’ guard Ja Morant. Kerr inserted Gary Payton II into the starting lineup to bolster their point of attack defense and forced Morant to shoot threes by going under every screen. Morant was still amazing as he finished the game with 34 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds, but Kerr stuck to the game plan, and it all worked out in the end.
Kerr has said throughout his postseason pressers that possessions are the key stat for winning playoff games. The Warriors came up big in this department as they outrebounded the Grizzlies 51-47 despite playing small for almost the entire game. This was another highlight for Kerr as he praised his team’s hustle and heart on the boards.
Here’s Kerr’s discussing the game:
"To me one of the key numbers when you look at the stat sheet: we out-rebounded Memphis for the first time this season."— Kylen Mills (@KylenMills) May 1, 2022
-Steve Kerr on the Warriors efficiency on the glass. The Grizzlies led the NBA in rebounds per game during the regular season. @kron4news #dubnation
Steve Kerr on Klay Thompson coming up with defensive stop on final play of game after he missed two FT’s and Warriors didn’t get ball on jump that shouldn’t have happened because ball went out of bounds off Dillon Brooks. pic.twitter.com/GWjN8d5ywr— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) May 1, 2022
Steve Kerr on Jordan Poole coming off the bench: "If Steph Curry can come off the bench, anyone can come off the bench."— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) May 1, 2022
"I think this was his best defensive season of his career, we definitely saw that all year long."— Kylen Mills (@KylenMills) May 1, 2022
-Head Coach Steve Kerr on Steph Curry's defensive efforts today and this season. @kron4news #dubnation #nbaplayoffs
Steve Kerr on the keys to the second half.— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) May 1, 2022
“A lot of guys stepped up and made big plus. Jordan Poole was phenomenal.” pic.twitter.com/5NmT7wIdy8
Warriors Players Discuss the Game
With Draymond Green ejected early, the Warriors had to rely on a super-charged offense to win the game. Kerr started the second half with Poole in the lineup and that’s when the offense took off. Poole led the team in scoring with 31 points including 9 assists and 8 rebounds. Second on the team in scoring was Stephen Curry who finished the game with 24 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. Although Klay Thompson uncharacteristically missed two-straight free throws down the stretch, he more than made up for it by hitting the go-ahead three late in the 4th quarter. Overall, the Splash Brothers had an off-night from the three-point line, but their championship competitiveness allowed them to impact the game in other ways especially on defense where both Curry and Thompson had key stops on Morant in the closing minutes of the game.
Here’s what the Warriors players had to say after the game:
Steph loved the playoff atmosphere of Game 1: “I just missed everything about this” pic.twitter.com/M1iSVAfNux— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 2, 2022
Steph breaks down his clutch defense on Ja pic.twitter.com/JwQJiMNECO— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 2, 2022
"I'm human"— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 1, 2022
Klay turned the page after his two missed free-throw attempts late in the fourth quarter: pic.twitter.com/MHbLq0QSV6
Klay “played angry,” but Andre helped him keep his composure late in Game 1 pic.twitter.com/4ucDZqUlZz— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 2, 2022
Klay ranks the Game 1 victory in Memphis alongside other big playoff road wins in his career pic.twitter.com/dSEbVkm2yV— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 1, 2022
"It feels really good to know that these guys have been in the fight, and they have championship experience...it was huge just being able to follow in those guys' footsteps"— NBA (@NBA) May 1, 2022
Jordan Poole on the @warriors veteran leadership. pic.twitter.com/AgPZwUGMgO
Gary Payton II on if he influenced Ja Morant to miss that last shot attempt:— Mark Haynes (@markhaynesnba) May 1, 2022
“We've seen that he's made that shot multiple times throughout the year. I just tried to disrupt it, and Klay did what he needed to do to disrupt it, and it ended up coming off.”
Looney on the defensive effort by Steph and Klay: "They showed why they're champions" pic.twitter.com/w3YIdvuWfX— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 1, 2022
Quote of the Night
The quotes of the night belongs to players on both teams. Postseason basketball is supposed to be intense and that was evident by all the trash talk that was said during and after the game. Here’s some of that trash talk that was on display on Sunday.
Steph Curry screaming at the Warriors bench after that steal on Ja Morant in crunch time: "Locked that shit up, boy. I locked that shit up."— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 1, 2022
“he. cant. guard. me.” right in Kuminga’s face. pic.twitter.com/6Fa6zShBwC— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) May 1, 2022
Brandon Clarke on Draymond's Flagrant 2 foul: “It’s not shocking that he did that. It’s something he’s done in the past" pic.twitter.com/SLgLwTRXrp— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 1, 2022
What they gon say now ✌— Jonathan Kuminga (@JonathanKuming6) May 1, 2022
With this win, the Warriors take an early 1-0 series lead and seize control of home court. Up next, Golden State will attempt to continue this momentum on Tuesday night for Game 2 in Memphis.