The Memphis Grizzlies were reminded what made Golden State the number one team in the NBA this season with a 67-15 record and only two losses at home in the 2014-2015 regular season Sunday afternoon as the Warriors won Game One of their Western Conference Semi-Final series 101-86
Courtney Lee hit the game's first shot, giving Memphis a 3-0 lead that would last 49 seconds. From there, a Draymond Green Three pointer and Steph Curry make led to a Warrior lead that they never gave up. Memphis showed some flashes of potential success in this series offensively; Golden State is a tremendous defensive team, but in the first half they gave up 52 points to a Memphis team that shot 20-39 in the first half combined. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph led that first half charge to the tune of 27 points and 6 rebounds combined on the offensive end,
Yet despite the strong offensive performance Memphis was down 62-52 at the half because of what became the theme of the game- Golden State is just that good at scoring the basketball. The Warriors shot 62% from the field in the first half, with guys like Draymond Green hitting three 3-point shots and Harrison Barnes scoring the ball efficiently to the tune of nine first half points. Across the board Golden State found success, outscoring Memphis in the paint (28 to 24) and in the fast break (12 to 6.)
Then the second half started. Memphis only scored 14 points in the third quarter and 34 total in the second half as the Warriors found themselves defensively and continued to pull away. This led to poor possessions and inefficient shot attempts for the Grizzlies. Golden State continued their scoring barrage, not just from three but from all over. When Steph Curry and the Warriors hit 13 three pointers and efficiently score with players like Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes (9-15 shooting, 5-9 from three combined equaling 27 points), they are nearly impossible to beat.
Some key numbers from the Game One loss...
- 5-20: The combined shooting of Nick Calathes, Jeff Green and Vince Carter. If Memphis hopes to shock a vast majority of the basketball world and find a way to win this series, these players (especially if Conley misses Game Two) must score the ball more effectively. Jeff Green improved as the game went on (4-9 shooting overall after a 1-6 first half) because he attacked the rim more, something that should happen all of the time. However, Calathes and Carter going 1-11 in a combined 36 minutes is not going to cut it in this (or in any) series.
- 2-11: The Grizzlies' three point shooting in the contest (not including the Jordan Adams make on the last shot of the game.) Memphis will never be known as long as they have this personnel for making a ton of threes consistently, but they have to hit better than 18% from range in order to create space for their big front court to work. The Warriors are going to allow for Memphis to have this space. When they do, if the Grizzlies cannot make they pay at least a couple more times a game this week will be a long one for Grizz Nation.
- 15 and 7: Memphis turnovers/offensive rebounds. Golden State also had 15 turnovers, but the Warriors' roster has the offensive fire power to make up for this. Memphis does not, especially with Mike Conley out, and the Grizzlies have to find a way to go above and beyond to protect the basketball and get extra possessions on the offensive glass. The more opportunities to score the better.
It is of course just Game One, and Dave Joerger will surely make some adjustments heading in to Game Two on Tuesday night. However, without Mike Conley it may not matter much. Memphis needs their Captain, and his health will continue to be the key if the Grizzlies hope to make these games more competitive.