clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2022 NBA Playoffs: Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors Game 6 Preview

One at a time.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Five Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

WHO: Memphis Grizzlies (56-26, 26-15 away) at Golden State Warriors (53-29, 31-10 home)

WHAT: 2022 NBA Playoffs - Western Conference Semifinals Game 6 (Warriors lead series 3-2)

WHEN: 9:00 PM CT

WHERE: Chase Center in San Francisco, California

HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN: TNT/92.9 FM ESPN MEMPHIS

INJURY REPORT:

MEMPHIS: Ja Morant (Out, knee), Santi Aldama (Out, knee), Killian Tillie (Out, back)

GOLDEN STATE: Otto Porter Jr. (Day-to-day, foot), Andre Iguodala (Out, back), James Wiseman (Out, knee), Gary Payton II (Out, elbow)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS:

MEMPHIS: Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams

GOLDEN STATE: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga, Draymond Green

BETTING INFORMATION (Per DraftKings): Golden State -8.5 (Memphis +8.5) O/U 219. Moneyline - Warriors -425 to win, Memphis +320


Steph Curry said he thought Golden State could be up 2-0 ahead of Game 3. With that same logic, he must have thought they completed the sweep of the Grizzlies after Game 4. Or at least that is how the Warriors played on Wednesday.

Steph Curry also said that the Warriors plan for Game 5 was to “Whoop that trick.” They certainly heard “Whoop that trick” on Wednesday night. In Game 5, the Warriors played as though the series was already wrapped up, and they quickly learned, to the tune of a 39-point loss, that they were vastly mistaken. Curry, along with his co-stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, underestimated the heart of the Grizzlies and the pride of the city of Memphis.

While Memphis is fighting for their season for the second straight game, the Grizzlies are not playing as if they are afraid of going home. In their 134-95 Game 5 victory, the Grizz played comfortably and fluidly, looking more and more like the dominant team fans watched all regular season.

In fact, the Grizzlies have a stronger case than the Warriors to claim they could have won the series already. In Game 1, Memphis was a layup away from victory. Assuming Games 2 and 3 produced the same result, the Grizzlies would be up 2-1 going into a Game 4 in which they led for 47 minutes before faltering in the final seconds. Take away a Curry flop or an ill-advised Dillon Brooks step-back three and the Grizzlies are up 3-1 heading home for Game 5.

Of course, the same arguments can be made for many playoff series, but all of that is to say: the Grizzlies have been the better team for much of the series, and while they may be facing elimination tonight, they are not afraid. Game 6 is the biggest game ever for this young Grizzlies squad. The Warriors have been here. So, how can Memphis overcome their opponent in the Bay?

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies - Game One Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Anyone but Curry

For all of his faults, Dillon Brooks is critical to everything the Grizzlies want to do against Golden State. Their best perimeter defender, Brooks’ large frame and physical style of play tends to agitate opposing guards. Guarding Steph Curry, Brooks has one of the toughest defensive assignments a wing can ask for. Besides being an unmatched threat from behind the arc, what makes Curry such a difficult matchup is his off-ball movement. Constantly running sideline to sideline, often around several screens, Curry is able to wear his defenders out and find open shots.

Brooks has done a good job getting around screens and closing out on Curry’s looks from range. Throughout the series, Curry will occasionally get an open look but it is usually a result of a miscommunication rather than a defensive lapse from Brooks. In the regular season, Curry averaged 38% from beyond the arc but in the series, Curry is only shooting 32% from deep.

Their minutes are often matched, but when Brooks is off the floor De’Anthony Melton has proven to give the Warriors superstar problems. Melton wreaks havoc defensively, racking up steals and blocks on some of the league’s most dynamic scorers. It is also worth noting that Desmond Bane is eighth in defensive rating among all playoff players who average at least 25 minutes a game.

Thompson has been a shell of the player that once torched Memphis and the rest of the Western Conference in the playoffs. He is averaging 16.2 points on 38.1/28.3 shooting splits for the series. In Game 4, he went 6-20 and 0-7 from three. Green is averaging 3.4 shots a game and Memphis is daring him to shoot. Jordan Poole has come back to earth in the past two games with 14 and three points in each contest. He is also averaging 3.4 turnovers a game. Poole and Thompson are more than capable of going for 30 on any given night but the game plan should be to shut down Curry.

Curry is going to score. It is inevitable. For the Grizzlies, though, making his shots highly contested and low percentage should be the goal.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Drag them in the mud

Many Grizzlies fans first got their taste of playoff success with the Grit and Grind era. The playing style of the :Core Four” grabbed the heart of Memphis in a way other fanbases could not understand. While the league moved behind the three-point arc and zigged as tempo got faster, the Grizz zagged and embraced playing in the mud.

These very different playing styles clashed in the 2015 semifinals when Golden State ultimately beat Memphis in six games and went on to win the NBA Finals. At the time, the Grizzlies were the group of experienced veterans who had made the playoffs for five straight years and the Warriors were the young, talented team with no extensive playoff success.

Seven years later, the script has flipped. The Warriors have playoff success in the form of three titles in five years, while the Grizzlies are the group of inexperienced, gifted youngsters. The new generation of Memphis basketball is far different from the group that Grizzlies fans enjoyed for nearly a decade. While there are far more alley-oops and highlight-reel plays, one thing has not changed: Memphis is all heart.

In Game 4, the Grizzlies played their style of basketball, forcing the Warriors to shoot 24.3% from three and limiting them to 38 points in the first half. While Memphis ultimately fell short, it found the formula to beating the titans of the Bay. The Grit n’ Grind Grizzlies could not go on the avalanche runs that Memphis had in the second and third quarters of Game 5, and that is what makes #GrzNxtGen so dangerous – they have the balance of suffocating defensive intensity and fast tempo scoring.

While scoring may have come easy in Game 5, it will be a different story when the Warriors and Grizzlies meet at the Chase Center tonight. Now, it is time for the Grizzlies to do what they did in Game 4 and what they showed they were capable of throughout the regular season – drag ‘em in the mud.

Attack the paint. Set punishing screens. Create deflections and scrap for loose balls. Rebound. Rebound. Rebound. These are all areas the Grizzlies have thrived in and if they play their style of basketball, it is back to the M for a massive - and decisive - Game 7.

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports

The Prediction

Warriors winning in six games always felt like the most likely outcome to me. I knew Golden State was good enough to steal a game in Memphis and they are one of the best teams in the league at home. For the second straight game, though, all the pressure is on the Warriors. Memphis is down their best player and Golden State was favored to win the series to begin with.

After a miserable loss Wednesday, how will the battle-tested Warriors respond? History tells us that Golden State is unlikely to fall short in Game 6. Since their 2015 championship run, the Warriors are 6-2 in Game 6s – three of those victories coming in close-out games. On the other hand…Golden State has some experience blowing 3-1 leads.

Thompson was on track for his best performance of the series in Game 5, shooting 7-12 from the field and 3-6 from three. All of this came in only 25 minutes because he was pulled in the third quarter as the Grizzlies lead stretched to 45. If the Grizzlies are able to dominate, as they did on Wednesday, despite Thompson’s hot shooting, then Memphis might be able to replicate their Game 5 performance.

As I said, the Golden State Warriors winning in six seemed like a safe bet for much of the series, but rarely do teams go down 52 in the playoffs. Whether Wednesday’s slaughtering was more indicative of Golden State’s flaws or a sign of how good the Memphis Grizzlies can be, I have newfound hope. Tonight will be similar to the sloppy, low-scoring Game 4 but this time Memphis does not let go of the lead and forces a Game 7.

Memphis 105, Golden State 101

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

For more Grizzlies talk, subscribe to the Grizzly Bear Blues podcast network on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and IHeart. Follow Grizzly Bear Blues on Twitter and Instagram.