The Golden State Warriors had an opportunity to advance to the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday, facing the Memphis Grizzlies with a 3-1 series lead. While the Grizzlies had home-court advantage, the continued absence of star guard Ja Morant put the Warriors in a good position to finish things off.
Stephen Curry thought he could smell blood in the water pregame when he told ESPN Warriors reporter Kendra Andrews, “Whoop that trick” when he was asked about Golden State’s gameplan — a slogan used by the Grizzlies from the 2005 classic Memphis song of the same title.
Steph was wrong. The Grizzlies routed the Dubs 134-95 and extended the series for at least one more game.
The Warriors got off to another slow start, putting them in an early hole, something they have become accustomed to throughout this postseason. However, unlike in recent games, Golden State never found enough footing to make a run back into the game.
Curry and Klay Thompson got off to good offensive starts, but the Warriors had no success slowing down the Grizzlies on the other side of the ball. The Dubs did not get any significant offensive contributions from anyone outside the original Splash Brothers. Jordan Poole had his worst performance of the postseason, finishing with just 3 points, 1 rebound, and 3 assists while committing 4 turnovers and three fouls. Even Draymond Green had five turnovers in just 22 minutes of action.
There’s not much use in getting into the details. But, if you analyze any single segment of action on Wednesday, the result was the same: the Grizzlies controlled the game. Memphis led by 10 at the end of the first quarter, 27 at the end of the second, and 52 at the end of the third. It was one of the most lopsided performances I’ve ever seen in the NBA playoffs.
With Warriors head coach Steve Kerr still away from the team in COVID-19 protocols, acting head coach Mike Brown pulled Golden State’s starters roughly halfway through the third quarter. No one blamed him.
The Warriors will have one day off to collect themselves before Game 6 of the series on Friday, May 13th, back home at the Chase Center. The mood in San Francisco will be excitable but probably tense. While the Dubs have ended plenty of series on the road before, they want to avoid a winner-take-all Game 7 back in Memphis. So we’ll see if they can deliver.