From the opening tip, Zach and TA made it known that the Grizzlies were here to grind it out, hustling on the boards and grabbing steals to start. It was a night that Memphis fans would appreciate, as the Grizz went all out with a big lineup of Calathes, Tay, Miller, Z-bo and Marc (soon to be Koufos) to combat the small ball play of the Warriors that has flashed around the league. Calathes was manning the point effectively in Bayless’ absence; with a few great floating whip passes over his head to Miller, who had two 3’s. The spacing was great and the offense fluid, whilst on the other side, the gears were in motion as the Grizzlies shut down the Warriors offense, who had to rely on the brilliance of wing shooting from Curry and Iggy. The opening quarter was competitive, which seemed to favour the slow starting Grizzlies, ending with a 32-29 lead.
The big line-up continued to dominate, with Marc replacing Zach, which continued the crisp ball movement on offense and gritty effort on defense, met with cheers from the fans. Calathes continued his great passing play and the bench unit clearly had it over the Dubs, building a 36-44 lead by the midway point of the second. The starters for both sides re-entered the game and continued the strong play, building a 54-44 lead with 3 minutes left, primarily through their 2 TO’s for 5 points in comparison to the Warriors’ 10 TO’s for 16 points. The Grizz were held scoreless for the final 3 minutes however, giving the Warriors a breath of life with 4 TO’s in 6 possessions, as the half closed on a negative note, still leading 54-50.
The Warriors offense came out revitalized to start the second, and a revival of Klay Thompson emerged as TA was guilty of helping off his man far too much considering the matchup (had the same issue throughout the playoffs). However, the offense of the Griz answered back against the zone defense of Golden State, with great interior passing and drives, leading to 7 quick points off layups for TA. Turnovers reared their ugly head again for the Griz, as 2 TO’s resulted in 2 quickfire 3’s that were both matched by long range shots from Conley. It became a battle of who could force the first stops on the other team, with the turning point coming after Conley committed his fourth foul on a horrible call. It brought Calathes into the lineup, who glued to his man and seemed to direct the Grizzlies defense, to dare open jumpers from Green rather than leave Curry, Thompson or Iggy open. The starting lineup with Calathes was playing great and built up the lead to 79-69 on the result of crushing defense and a 10-2 run. Around the 3 minute mark, Z-bo started to catch fire in the block, torching Jermaine O’Neal and Green after already sending Speights and Lee back to the bench, The inside out identity of the Grizz was dominant, and rather than closing on a low, the quarter ended with Calathes turning Curry inside out, and Miller hitting two foul shots before showing his revitalized health, bouncing back up from an unnecessary O’neal back screen.
The big lineup of Calathes, Miller, Tay, Koufos and Marc started the fourth against a small ball lineup of the Warriors, and continued to abuse them. Three fouls from Koufos on aggressive play brought back Z-bo, who had his fifth victim in Harrison Barnes on the block. The midway point had a 7-0 run that saw the lead grow to 20, and the Warriors waving the white flag and clearing out their bench. Joerger seemed to want to make a statement to his team and to other Western contenders as he left his starters out to grind the opposition, with Gasol staying on until 90 seconds left, as the score ended 108-90 in favour of the Grizzlies.
Papa Z-bo : The birth of his son seemed to revitalize Zach, who went for 23 points and 11 boards looking like the stud of old, torching 5 different players on the block, and was a major part of Lee fouling out midway through the fourth.
Ruthless Dave Joerger : Shortened his rotation with big minutes for Tay and Miller, as well as 41 minutes for Marc after his lethargic performance against the Pelicans. After challenging the team at practice, continued to challenge them to lift their performance in a game that had playoff intensity from the Griz.
Calathes: Was Awesome on both offense and defense. His 5 assists don’t reflect the numerous hockey assists and set ups he made, whilst his rotations and smart double teams signaled the end of the Warriors offensive revitalization in the third.
Offense : When Golden State started to heat up to start the third, the Grizzlies didn’t wait for them to cool down but matched them blow for blow. The development of the offense allowed the Grizz to match the Warriors until they started to cool down, by which point they began to shut them down completely through their defense.
Inside Points : 54 points inside for the Griz at around a 60 % clip opposed to the Warriors’ 18 on less than 50% is a huge number for the Griz. All the Grizzlies seemed to finish their chances inside with the exception of Koufos a few times, and conversion of these easy opportunities spells well for the team. Their interior defense, particularly with the twin towers playing, also easily had it over the Warriors.
Getting into the offense quickly : Point guards are moving the ball up quickly, but either screens need to be set quicker or the guards need to create by themselves. The trio of Koufos, Gasol and Randolph aren’t exactly the most mobile bunch, and often don’t set picks until the 15/14 second mark, so the latter appears to be the best option if the Grizzlies are set on initiating sets faster.
Youth : What does this result mean for Ed, Quincy and Bayless? It may have been the result of Tay and Miller playing great, who both played more than 28 minutes, but may also demonstrate his unwillingness to trust Ed and Q in major games (Bayless was injured) due to their recent performances. These players will need to step up for minutes in important games, otherwise Joerger has shown he’s not afraid to challenge those who need to pick up their game (ie Marc Gasol's long night).
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