No confetti this time. The Warriors haven’t lost at home since Thunder (the mascot, not Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook) used to dunk off trampolines. OK, that’s not true, but it sure seems that long. I’ve only seen two Warriors home losses this year and the other was to the Chicago Bulls in overtime.
Missed shots and Memphis D
I was at this particular game, so I didn’t get to see Charles Barkley drooling with joy on TV at its result, a 97-90 win for the Grizzlies over a jump-shooting Warriors squad that didn’t shoot well in Game 2. OK, that’s an understatement. Klay Thompson went 1-for-8 in the second quarter. Stephen Curry started his night with another MVP trophy presentation — this time from Adam Silver — and ended it with two badly missed threes. One was an airball, and the other barely grazed rim and hit the bottom of the glass. The Warriors went 6-for-26 on threes after making nearly half their three-point attempts in Game 1, with the starters combining to go 3-for-22 from beyond the arc.
“We missed some open ones, particularly in the second quarter, and then Memphis played extremely well and pressured us into a lot of misses as well,” said Steve Kerr, who along with the 2014-15 Warriors suffered his first playoff loss … as a head coach. Kerr knows this part of the journey was inevitable, and now so does Curry.
“This (was) a big opportunity for us to go up 2-0, and keep the momentum we built in the playoffs. But after the game, you can kind of be real with yourself and know you probably won’t go 16-0 in the playoffs,” said the Warriors’ biggest star.
What’s it like to (1) win Game 1, (2) find out afterward that you’re the MVP, (3) give a great speech and do a ton of interviews the next day, (4) have the commissioner hand you an iconic trophy in front of a packed house at your home arena, and (5) start playing a game that your opponent desperately needs to win a few minutes after putting the trophy down?
“It was weird. I mean, that is the best way I can put it,” Curry said.
“You want to stay in the moment and kind of stay focused on what the task is during the game. But obviously with the extracurricular stuff with the MVP and all of that, the celebration, and just change of routine to lead up to a game, it’s different. I don’t know if that’s a huge reason why we lost or not. But I think when we started the game, we felt like, oh, we’re ready to go. But it has been a long 48 hours. A lot of words, a lot of pictures, a lot of celebrating the accomplishment.”
— The Warriors committed 20 turnovers, and it seemed like each one ended with Tony Allen sailing in for a transition dunk. That wasn’t exactly the case, but Allen was incredible. After Thompson dominated against the Grizzlies during the regular season, Allen turned the tables on Tuesday night.
— Mike Conley was tremendous, and came back after Draymond Green bumped him in the face. Green’s comments about that semi-controversial play can be found here.
— I was on the floor during the trophy ceremony, which was a pretty cool experience just from a crowd noise perspective. I filmed a video from the baseline that came out horribly due to the lighting, but it’s worth a watch to hear the cheers when Curry hoisted the trophy.
— Speaking of stuff I wrote earlier, I didn’t expect my “Five things that could maybe, probably unlikely but possibly, lead to a Warriors loss tonight” story to end up being so painfully accurate.
1. Mike Conley comes back (and plays well)
2. The MVP trophy feels like an anchor
/reads Curry’s comments
3. Bogut gets hurt
As far as I know, this did NOT occur. Victory!
4. Playoff whistles
Green picked up two fouls very early, and the second one was quite dubious. The Warriors actually committed fewer fouls overall than the Grizzlies, but there were a few odd calls throughout.
5. The Warriors drop their guard
This comes with the caveat that the Warriors looked sluggish early, but rallied in the second quarter. If anything, they may have gotten too frantic, like someone struggling in quicksand, just making things worse.
“I thought we lost our poise tonight. That was the biggest issue. We were in such a rush,” said Kerr. “I felt like we were in the middle of the second quarter, and it felt like desperation out there. We were too emotional.”
— David Lee came in and looked awful. Either you can give him the benefit of the doubt and attribute this to his lack of playing time, especially in key moments this season. Or, you can take a look at Lee and make the case that he’s not even a viable role player on a good team anymore. After watching his five minutes in person, I’m leaning toward the latter. He was never a great defender, but now he can’t even score.
— Thompson was simply awful in every phase of the game, and then he capped his night by pulling a Sergio Romo (he didn’t talk to reporters about his struggles afterward).
— The Warriors made the game interesting toward the end by going small (with Green at center), but it wasn’t enough. But that lineup will certainly be used again.
“Well, it’s interesting, the dynamic of them playing five smalls,” said Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger. “It’s good for us to be playing from a position of strength, playing from a league where we’re able to continue to control the tempo a little bit, keep going inside. We’ll do a better job of executing and probably be a little more prepared for it.”
— One little problem with that small lineup: It can’t stop Zach Randolph.
— Marc Gasol promised this game would be more physical, and he was throwing his body around like an offensive lineman at certain points.
— My wife texted me after the game, asking if the Warriors are “in trouble.” I responded with “kinda,” but that’s the way the playoffs are supposed to be. There’s a reason why Memphis was in the Western Conference Finals not too long ago, and there was a reason why the Grizzlies were thought of as a potential nightmare matchup for the Warriors earlier this season. The Warriors are being tested, and after 67 wins (“a dream season,” according to Kerr), they’re going to need to win at least one game at The Grindhouse if they want to keep this magical run going.