The thing about expectations? It stings a bit more when you fall short. But the team fought their asses off to get back in to this contest.
In their first chance to meet up with the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors in the Ja Morant era, the Memphis Grizzlies fell short to the tune of 113-101. The Grizzlies simply did not have enough offensive production to match what the Warriors were able to do, and Memphis fell victim to struggling against a veteran group when it mattered most. However, the fact that the Grizzlies were down over double digits in the final frame and were able to fight back speaks to the tenacity and toughness of this young group. It should hurt - they missed their goal. But the sky isn’t falling. There’s a tomorrow...or a Wednesday in this case.
When you swing at the likes of Steph, you best not miss. Unfortunately the team wasn’t able to keep pace with Golden State on this night.
Some quick takeaways from a rough showing heading in to Wednesday’s Play-In Tournament.
Steph Curry can ball...BUT...
As stated in the Game Preview, the other members of the Warriors could not go off for Memphis to win. Curry had a monster game, but he also attempted 36 shots - he wasn’t a model in remarkable efficiency (9-22 from three is solid, of course). However, Andrew Wiggins provided efficient scoring in his #2 role as a starter, while Jordan Poole also led all bench scorers with his double-digit scoring performance. Draymond Green also showed some flashes of his veteran skill set as he flirted with a double-double.
Multiple Warriors did just enough to win this game for Golden State. Memphis didn’t have the counter...especially off the bench.
Speaking of that bench...
The reserves fell short
Jordan Poole outscored the entire Grizzlies reserve unit by himself. Desmond Bane had 8 points, De’Anthony Melton had 4 points, and Brandon Clarke had 2. Poole had 15. That’s just simply not going to get the job done, especially for a team that prides itself on its depth. Golden State played 8 players total in this contest, while Memphis played 9 double-digit minutes. The Warriors won the battle of the benches, and that made a massive difference in this game.
- Jonas Valanciunas is a monster. Another 25+ point, 15+ rebound game. It’s been said before, and it’ll be stated again here - when he is this elite, his lack of lateral movement defensively matters a heck of a lot less. He had the advantage in this game, and he took advantage of the Warriors often
- Dillon Brooks is going to be tired. He had the unenviable job of trying to slow down Steph Curry more often than not. It’d be easy to say he failed...but Steph chucked a TON of shots to get his points, and Brooks finished that game with a positive +/-. It’s a flawed statistic, but it does show that while Steph lit up the Grizzlies at times it didn’t lead to losing while Dillon was on the floor. Brooks was the only starter with a positive +/- despite fouling out. Six assists jump out at you as well - Dillon facilitated nicely.
- Jaren racks up the STOCKS. 4 total steals/blocks for Jackson Jr. as he tried to be disruptive/active at the rim and around passing lanes. It clearly wasn’t enough - he looked lost on switches too often, and while he wasn’t the only one he needs to be better in that area to give Memphis a better chance to win.
- Ja Morant wasn’t efficient enough. His first head to head with Steph ended in Curry’s favor. Even more than his 7-21 shooting night (1-6 from three) was his assist to turnover numbers (9 assists, 4 turnovers). The ratio needs to be better, and his shooting numbers higher percentage wise, if Memphis wants to win - especially when the bench struggles so much.
The Grizzlies will host the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday in the 9-10 Play-In game. Win, and they take on the loser of the 8-9 game. Lose? The season ends on a less-than-uplifting note. At least they have a chance to rest back home in Memphis before the do-or-die game with San Antonio.