They say it’s lonely at the top, in whatever you do
You always gotta watch motherf—– around you
Nobody’s invincible, no plan is foolproof
We all must meet our moment of truth
Guru wasn’t lying. The Warriors now face their “moment of truth,” as Steve Kerr told reporters after a 99-89 loss in Game 3, which looked an awful lot like Game 2. Once again, Golden State went just 6-of-26 on three-pointers. Once again, the Warriors found themselves behind by double-digits at halftime and couldn’t quite claw their way back. Once again, the squad that prided themselves on teamwork and unselfish play looked like a bunch of individuals.
They can’t blame an inspirational performance from Mike Conley this time, as the Grizzlies point guard went 3-for-10 and was just another guy out there, albeit it one with a mask. Put simply, this was a game where Memphis’ bigs bludgeoned the Warriors. Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and even Kosta Koufos did close to whatever they pleased, combining for 51 points (19-of-36 from the floor) and 29 rebounds in 68 minutes. Andrew Bogut, Draymond Green, Mo Speights and Festus Ezeli combined for 19 points (6-for-22) and 17 rebounds in 75 minutes. And that was with Speights contributing nine points in five minutes before leaving with a calf injury.
But that wasn’t all. Stephen Curry hasn’t been his MVP self since accepting the award. He missed open threes, he missed contested shots we’ve seen him make all year, he threw dreadful-looking passes and he never put his stamp on this game. Neither did Green, who committed a game-high five turnovers (Curry had four) and went just 1-for-8 from the field.
The only Warriors who played well were Klay Thompson (20 points on 8-of-13 shooting with eight rebounds) and Harrison Barnes (16 points, 7-of-10, six rebounds), who surprisingly was the strongest Warrior all night on both ends.
Golden State got a below-average game from Curry on a night when the vets looked their ages, and that hasn’t happened often this year. If Bogut isn’t playing through an injury (it looked like he sustained one in the first quarter of Game 1), it’s difficult to explain what’s going on with his game. Leandro Barbosa was a complete zero (0-for-just-about-everything in 11 minutes, with a -15 to show for it). Andre Iguodala, thought by many (including yours truly) to be a pivotal player in this series, isn’t hurting Memphis with his shooting or defense.
But the overarching problem is obvious. The Warriors didn’t learn their lesson from Game 2 about playing as a team. Memphis deserves credit for making Golden State uncomfortable, but wasn’t that what the Warriors’ defense was supposed to do to their postseason opponents after leading the NBA in defensive efficiency all season? Instead, the Grizzlies are getting baskets when they need them, and the Warriors spent most of this game showing just how little they trust each other on offense when the going gets rough.
— How else was this game like Game 2? The Warriors had a chance to come back and win in the fourth quarter, but screwed it up with missed free throws, missed threes and assorted mistakes. The most glaring miscue: Green losing the ball recklessly with 1:13 left when the Warriors were down 93-88. And Green’s lane violation on a Curry free throw attempt was just plain weird.
— Warriors’ team free throw percentages in seven playoff games: 61.8%, 63.2%, 83.3%, 69.6%, 66.7%, 78.6%, 67.9%.
— If there’s anything the Warriors can take with them from this game into Game 4 on Monday, it’s that they played better than the Grizzlies in the second half, when they outscored Memphis 50-44.
— Bogut only played 6:19 in the second half — Steve Kerr may need to go small more often to salvage this series.
— Blah, blah, go small, blah, blah, run Z-Bo through pick-and-rolls, blah, blah, maybe D-Lee needs a chance, blah, blah …
This guy needs to play better.