The Memphis Grizzlies season ended last night after a closing flurry from the Golden State Warriors that showed their championship experience. After a Desmond Bane three-pointer gave the Grizzlies the lead, the Warriors went on a 23-7 run over the last 6 minutes.
It was a hard-fought game and series for the Memphis Grizzlies, who got incredible game 6 performances from Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane combining for 55 points. However, rebounding is what did the Grizzlies in. After leading the NBA in rebounds all season, they lost that battle 70-44 and allowed 25 offensive rebounds from the Warriors. Even with forcing 19 turnovers, it was not enough to overcome the domination on the glass.
It’s not all bad for the Grizzlies though, as they still have taken a step in the right direction. Historically, young teams often have to go through tough playoff losses before they can get to the mountaintop. This defeat will motivate the Grizzlies to be better similarly to the loss to the Jazz last season.
Now for the grades:
Dillon Brooks—A+: 30 Points, 11-28 FG (7-15 3-PT), 4 Rebounds, 3 STL, 1 BLK
The Dillon Brooks experience was on full display. After a couple of bad shooting performances, Brooks started the game on fire and scored the ball very well for most of the game. Despite some questionable shot attempts, which have always been a part of his identity, his energy on both ends was incredible. His defense on both Steph Curry and Jordan Poole kept the Grizzlies in the game, holding them to 14-42 shooting for the contest. Brooks was booed by the Chase Center crowd in the introductions, every time he entered the game, and every time he touched the ball. But he kept his composure much better than in Game 4.
Desmond Bane—A: 25 Points, 9-16 FG (4-7 3-PT), 7 Rebounds, 2 Assists
Throughout the series, it was clear that Desmond Bane was nowhere near 100% healthy. However, he battled through it all and began to look more like himself in each game. Tonight, Bane finally looked like the player we saw in both the regular season and the first round against the Timberwolves. He hit timely shots, including the one that gave the Grizzlies their last lead of the year, and moved extremely well off the ball. He also attacked the rim in transition better than he has all series, including a tough finish over multiple defenders that might have been his best of the season. His development has been incredible this year and he is only going to get better.
Jaren Jackson Jr.—C: 12 Points, 5-19 FG (1-7 3-PT), 4 BLK, 4 Rebounds
Without Ja Morant, the Grizzlies would have needed a great offensive performance from Jaren Jackson Jr. The Warriors recognized that and responded with Draymond Green guarding him for the majority of the night. His threes did not fall, his finishing was inconsistent, and at times he was not aggressive enough attacking in the paint. However, it was on the defensive end where Jackson Jr. made his biggest impact, the same way he has all season. His ability to switch onto perimeter players and protect the rim was on full display again as he anchored a defense that forced the Warriors into tough shots and turnovers all night. He blocked four shots and altered many others, but Jaren will have to better offensively in order for the Grizzlies to get to the next level.
- Tyus Jones—C: Jones was incredible in Morant’s absence all season but it simply was not his night from a scoring perspective. He missed a lot of shots that he usually makes and turned the ball over twice (which might be the most shocking development of the game). He still finished with 8 assists and 9 rebounds, but it was a very uncharacteristic performance overall
- Steven Adams—C: Adams fought through injury tonight and you could definitely tell, but he deserves credit for playing through it along with coming out of Covid protocols earlier this week. He was not as effective on the glass as he needed to be, Kevon Looney dominated that aspect of the game, but he did better than many of the other players. He also did a pretty good job in the pick and roll with the dangerous Warriors guards.
- Brandon Clarke—D: It was a very strange performance from Brandon Clarke tonight as he shot just 2-10 from the field. He played with energy and had a lot of good looks, they just did not fall. Clarke also had only 4 rebounds, even though all of them were offensive he needed to be more active on the defensive side of the boards where the Warriors dominated.
The Memphis Grizzlies season is over, but it feels like the journey is just beginning. The Golden State Warriors have three Hall of Famers who have played in series such as these for years along with a supporting cast of veterans and young players with potential. Losing to them is in no way an indictment on this team or the success of the season. The Grizzlies have the second-youngest roster in the NBA and it showed at times this postseason, but the only way to gain experience is through playing in as many of these situations as possible. They are building something very special in Memphis and personally, I cannot wait to see where it goes from here!