So much for rest, no time for celebration. The Memphis Grizzlies kicked off Game 1 of the second round, as they are now matched up with the Golden State Warriors. As a large underdog in this series, even as a 2nd seed, the Grizzlies had a chance to kick off the series on the right foot.
The game started out with a 3-point party, as 12 of the first 14 field goal attempts came from beyond the arc. Ja Morant started the festivities with 2 triples of his own. That trend allowed the game to stay close. Desmond Bane tragically was placed on the receiving end of a poster jam from Gary Payton II. However, he struck back with a step-back 3 that made Steph Curry do the Cha Cha Slide.
De’Anthony Melton returned to action after a few DNP-CD’s, and drilled 2 three’s in the opening moments of the game. The Grizzlies pushed through the end of the quarter with their energy on the glass and force scoring in the paint, leading 32-24 after the 1st period.
The second quarter started with Jaren Jackson remembering he’s the biggest dude on the floor, as he was an emphasis for the Grizzlies’ offense early. The Grizzlies led by as much as 13, but the Warriors cut down the lead within single-digits, largely due to a Jordan Poole “Poole Party” for a quick bit. Melton continued to do stuff on both sides of the ball, making a pair of defensive plays that resulted in transition offense. Draymond Green was ejected for a flagrant 2 foul, after scraping Brandon Clarke in the face then dragging him down by his jersey in the air.
Draymond Green was ejected for this flagrant 2 foul. pic.twitter.com/QPYnODEXt1— ESPN (@espn) May 1, 2022
Morant closed the half with a layup at the horn to give the Grizzlies a 61-55 lead.
The Warriors opened the half on a 13-5 run, as Steph Curry came out of the gates throwing flames from deep. The Grizzlies answered with their own run to regain the lead, but the Warriors countered with their own. Game of runs, let me tell ya! Jaren Jackson Jr. absolutely erupted in that quarter — scoring 14 points and going berserk from 3, hitting 4 triples. They couldn't generate any separation, as Poole and Curry were heating up offensively. The quarter closed with the Warriors leading 91-90.
The Warriors opened the quarter on a 12-3 run, behind the play from Thompson and Poole, to get another double-digit lead. Jackson and Morant came in and took charge to trim the deficit down towards tying the game, and even taking the lead. There was a big 4-point swing where the Grizzlies got a jump ball that led to a Morant layup, then they flew out in transition again for a Clarke layup. Two challenges were pivotal in this quarter — one was for a Steph Curry charge foul that was unsuccessful, and the other was an out of bounds play that was successful for the Grizzlies. Klay Thompson hit a big 3 to give them a 1-point lead with under a minute left, and he also missed 2 free throws to give the Grizzlies 1 more shot.
There was a jumpball at the end after a hazy out of bounds call. The Grizzlies recovered. The Grizzlies ran a final play to get Ja Morant a lane downhill, and they couldn’t capitalize.
Warriors take Game 1 with a 117-116 win.
- Jaren Jackson Jr.’s eruption. Look what happens when Jaren Jackson isn’t taken out of his rhythm with ticky-tack fouls. Jackson is the biggest player in this series, and he played like it. The Grizzlies made it a priority to find him in the post, and he capitalized on those chances. They started to run him in more ball screen actions to get him going from beyond the arc, and it paid off, as he hit 6 three-pointers. He was a killer in this Game 1, and they’re going to need performances and discipline like this one in this series.
- De’Anthony Melton back in the fold. After falling out of the rotation against the Warriors, Melton was back in the mix in Game 1. He played like the Melton we’ve seen from the regular season. He spaced the floor with 3-point shooting, and he did a great job of turning defense into offense as well. Against a team with firepower like the Warriors, they’re going to need Melton in this series. His individual defense and his ability to create defensive events could bode well for them against the Warriors.
- Too much splashing, more discipline. The Grizzlies were on the receiving end of splashing. Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole combined for 55 points and 10 3’s, while Klay Thompson had 15 points and 3 three’s of his own. The Grizzlies were caught scrambling too much and weren’t disciplined on ball screens. With that, they fell victim to this trio’s 3-point attack, but it also led to easy dimes inside for buckets in the paint. The Grizzlies have to maintain good defensive discipline and try to hop in their passing lanes to generate turnovers. They have to get the Warriors out of their flow offensively in order to be successful in this series.
The Grizzlies now trail the series 1-0, and will play Game 2 on Tuesday night at 8:30 PM CST.