The sky is blue, water is wet, the sun sets in the west, and tax day is April 15. Everything is back to what it once was, and always should be, because the Warriors are back to playing the way we’re used to seeing them play.
Nah, I’m just playing. It was just one game in a huge pile of hard-fought, emotional games in these playoffs, but the Warriors needed one like this. Not just to remind themselves that they’re still a team that can win by double-figures, play outstanding defense and make three-pointers, but because a loss would’ve meant Golden State’s season was likely done.
Many questions were answered in this 101-84 road victory.
- MVP Stephen Curry? There he was, scoring 21 points over a 30-second span (give or take) in the first half.
- Is Andrew Bogut still capable of playing like an abnormally tall Tazmanian Devil on the defensive end? Absolutely.
- Are the Warriors actually a deep team? Yes.
- Can Steve Kerr and his staff make the adjustments necessary to keep their season alive? Just ask Tony Allen.
- Is Allen really so special that he can derail a 67-win team? Hell, no.
The Warriors jumped out to an early lead, as Curry went into “traditional point guard mode” to start the game and looked to get everyone else involved in the opening minutes. Draymond Green scored eight early points, a reminder of how Golden State won Game 1. The Warriors looked much more lively than the Grizzlies, but the Grizzlies kept it close in the first quarter — in part because the Warriors missed some more easy shots. But even their clanks — a Harrison Barnes lefty dunk comes to mind — were signs of better things to come.
They’ve committed too many turnovers throughout this series, and the Warriors gave it up a series-high 21 times on Monday night. But when the Warriors are making threes, getting steals and blocking shots, it doesn’t really matter.
After Games 2 and 3, those who prefer to see guys bangin’ down low and believe that the bigger team always has the advantage were feeling pretty danged good. And Kerr was looking like a guy who might be linked to the Suns forever after his playing days, but for all the wrong reasons. Good enough to orchestrate basketball artistry during the regular season, but too finesse to win when it counts.
Kerr, Ron Adams, Alvin Gentry and the rest can’t add ass-size to the Warriors’ frontcourt between games, nor would they want to funnel Memphis BBQ into their forwards’ and centers’ throats nonstop for 24 hours to accomplish that feat. The coaching staff realized that there’s no reason to guard the perimeter against Memphis. They lucked out in a sense, as Mike Conley shot like a guy with a broken face, but the true masterstroke was treating Allen like a one-way player and using his man to help out inside.
The result? Just 12 points for Z-Bo, and a 7-of-19 performance from Marc Gasol that no one in the Grindhouse saw coming.
You could see Curry’s game return as this game went on. He was a calculating guard early, looking to make the right pass every chance he got. Then his shot started falling, he got a couple dunks in transition (OK, one dunk and one rim-smasher that spun in), and we saw CURRY again. The slight-of-hand dribbling, the dekes that get defenders jumping into the air, the emotion, the look.
Golden State looked like a different team after Game 1 because they got away from what got them the No. 1 seed, but that’s partly because they all take their cues from Curry. Curry showed restraint while Game 4 was close, then joy once they went ahead by double-digits. You could see it from the bench’s reaction: “We remember this. This is good. This is us.”
The front office loves Barnes, so it’s not really a question as to whether the Warriors will keep him as long as they can. But forget the body-type and political skills — the best part about Barnes is he’s much, much better in the playoffs than he is during the regular season. He seemed as angry and focused as any Warriors player in this game, including Curry and Bogut.
Then there was Andre Iguodala, who scored in double figures for the first time in over a month. When he makes threes, this team cannot be stopped. Then again, that’s like noting how easy it is to get somewhere quickly in the Bay Area when there isn’t any traffic.
Kerr apparently decided that Leandro Barbosa and Mo Speights can only work together, as Speights’ injury seemed to bring out the Warriors’ all-business side and Barbosa never left the bench. David Lee gave the Warriors 15 good minutes after a DNP-CD in Game 3.
The Dub Steps
— Curry had a monster stat-line: 33 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The Warriors always seem to thrive when Curry’s rebound total is awfully high for a guy his size.
— Green filled up the stat sheet: 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals, two blocks and SEVEN turnovers?!?! I can’t lie, that’s impressive.
— Bogut had the highest plus-minus at +21, which made perfect sense to anyone who watched this game.
— I made a joke about Conley’s 4-for-15 being a “heroic 4-for-15” and Grizzlies fans acted like I took a sledgehammer to the Memphis point guard’s eye. What Conley did in Game 2 was awesome … but he’s played in three straight games! Obviously I don’t think the Warriors should target his injury, but it’s time to take the Twitter bubble wrap off the guy.
— Speaking of Conley’s face, Green doesn’t seem to mind playing that villain role in Memphis. AT ALL.
— And some Grizzlies fan threw popcorn and whatever else at Curry after the game. Let’s see …
- Angry fans in my Twitter mentions when I make a joke about one of their players: CHECK
- Tossing food at the opposing team’s best player as he leaves the floor: CHECK
All Memphis fans need to do is start calling themselves “6s” and they’re the Seahawks fans of the NBA.
— Dave Joerger looks like a NASCAR driver.
— The look Rosalyn Gold-Onwude gave Diamond Leung was pretty funny, but Barnes’ expression made me laugh a little more.
— David Liss (@Big408Dave) May 12, 2015