For the Memphis Grizzlies, Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors was a complete disaster, but if you're reading this you already know that. You know about the disastrous first half in which the Warriors' Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala finally found their touch from long range, and you know about how Memphis was unable to put even the smallest of dents in Golden State's 17-point halftime lead after the break.
Losses aren't fun. Especially not playoff losses, but this was still totally different. This left me with an awful taste in my mouth, and I'm not quite sure how long it's going to stay there.
Let's not kid ourselves — Golden State is a better team than Memphis. Every single metric under the sun says so, and so do both my eyeballs and common sense. If you play well and play hard against the Warriors and lose there's no shame in that. You just tip your cap and get ready for the next one.
But Memphis certainly didn't play well, and at times they didn't play particularly hard either. Something seemed off with the Grizzlies. There were a disproportionate amount of fumbled exchanges or passes that were just totally off the mark altogether. Some of Golden State's 10 offensive rebounds were due to lucky bounces off missed jumpers, yet others were very easily attainable by Memphis and the Warriors came up with them anyway. And then there was this play from the first quarter, when a poor pass from Conley resulted in an easy steal and slam from Harrison Barnes.
It can't be seen much from this camera angle, unfortunately, but most of the Memphis players just sort of stared at the ball, presumably expecting it to roll out of bounds. Meanwhile, Barnes hustles over, picks it up, and takes it in for the uncontested dunk as the Grizzlies watch from the other side of the floor.
It's one thing to play well and lose to the best team in the league. It's another thing entirely to not even give yourselves a chance.
The effort during Game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals was what I had come to expect from the Grizzlies in the doldrums of March, not when they had the opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the league's heavy favorites.
Even if the effort was there, it's still no guarantee that Memphis would've won. Golden State played a terrific game, and it wasn't entirely because of poor Memphis defense (although that certainly helped). Iguodala and Draymond Green finally found success from beyond the arc, which put all kinds of holes in the Grizzlies' strategy of crowding Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and living with more open threes by Golden State's less prolific shooters. While it's true Memphis may have still lost if they played better and with more urgency, it's incredibly frustrating to know you never allowed yourself that chance.
With the teams knotted at two games apiece, the series is far from over — just as it was far from over when some were quick to crown Memphis the victors after stealing Game 2 on the road and dominating Game 3 at FedExForum — but it was a missed opportunity, and one that may ultimately cost them the series.