The Memphis Grizzlies were the victims of a Golden State avalanche on Saturday night as the Warriors put on an offensive clinic in Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinal series. It was a combination of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole leading the way making tough shots (which, you know, they’re known to do) and abysmal defense from the Grizzlies on the ball that led to the strongly efficient scoring Golden State was able to demonstrate throughout the game. Even though Memphis started hot from three and had a double-digit lead in the 1st quarter, the Grizzlies were not able to sustain that momentum and the Warriors ran through them in this game.
Some thoughts on a loss that makes Game 4 on Monday night pretty close to a must-win.
The rotation confusion continues
Taylor Jenkins is an NBA head coach. He and his staff know more about basketball than most will ever hope to. But some of the movements in this game were head scratchers.
- No Steven Adams until late. The Memphis Grizzlies were the #1 rebounding team in the entire NBA over the course of the regular season. They have been outrebounded throughout this series against Golden State, who while they were #7 themselves are not known to make the boards a priority. Memphis continued the trend of trying to go small to match what Golden State was trying to do instead of zigging as the Warriors zagged, putting Adams out there to help on the glass/with his screening and passing from the post.
Perhaps Adams is still recovering from COVID - while he is out of Health and Safety Protocols, as we all know at this stage of the pandemic symptoms can exist beyond infection. But that was never indicated by Jenkins or the Grizzlies. He was good to go, according to them. And the Warriors do not have a weapon at center like Minnesota did.
If Adams cannot play in this series, in what series can he play in?
- Insisting on 10 man rotations. The game recap for away games these playoffs is a broken record. John Konchar is a wonderful story and holds great value to this franchise as a glue guy who fills in when needed. If it were February, and Desmond Bane was banged up, and Dillon Brooks was out, then maybe you let Konchar run. But this is the 2nd round of the playoffs. While it was only 4 minutes of play, it made there seem to be an appearance of “what do I do?” in terms of the rebounding issue. Konchar was a -8 in those 4 minutes. He does not have the capacity to impact these games at this stage of the postseason. His run needs to stop.
Jenkins isn’t the reason Memphis lost. Golden State was amazing offensively and the defensive issues of the Grizzlies were profound. But Coach didn’t help the cause in this one.
Please help Ja Morant
Ja Morant started off hot from three, making several long range shots as the Warriors committed to clogging the paint and making Ja’s life difficult. He adjusted and found a way to be aggressive at the rim and also create looks for teammates, finishing the game with 34 points and 7 assists before sitting out with an apparent knee issue around 6 minutes left in the 4th quarter.
Morant was consistently the only source of offense for Memphis. Jaren was 4-13 from the field. Desmond Bane, while more efficient, was still clearly not himself as a weapon/scorer. And the Grizzlies reserves were really, really bad outside of Kyle Anderson (4-23 outside of Kyle’s 4-6 before garbage time began). The Warriors bench outplayed what is supposed to be a strength of Memphis.
The myth of “the Grizzlies are better without Ja” was never true - but it really was shining bright in this game. And if Morant is seriously injured, the season is very much in doubt.
- Kyle Anderson got tossed. He was called for an offensive foul and did not like the call. He’s usually pretty mild-mannered. He was not there. Frustration clearly played a role - but Kyle is one of the team’s veteran leaders. Composure lost by him could be cause for concern.
- Memphis did what Golden State wanted them to do. Threes were chucked. It worked out early on, but the Grizzlies do not have the personnel to launch that many threes (40+) without staying committed to attacking the lane and creating dribble penetration. The Warriors slash and move without the ball offensively, and their zone defense disrupted Memphis offensively. The Grizzlies stood still, watched, and allowed for the Warriors to have their way on both ends. If that continues, the series will end sooner than any Grizzlies fans want it to.
The good news is that it only counts for one loss, and Dillon Brooks will return to help defensively in Game 4. But more is needed of everyone not named Ja Morant if Memphis hopes to regain home court advantage in this series Monday night.