#1 – Golden State Warriors
For the second straight game in this series, the Warriors shot a mostly unsustainable percentage on contested looks. But on Tuesday, they woefully underperformed their season average on uncontested ones, which are more reliable given that nearly all layups and dunks are classified as “uncontested.” Golden State shot just 5-23 on the latter in Game 2, and something closer to their typical average here may have just won them the game.
Of course, Memphis had something to do with the number of attempts being so low, also far below the Warriors’ typical output. Mike Conley’s return was huge, and he played spectacular defense throughout the night on Steph Curry and at times Klay Thompson despite his multiple remaining physical maladies. The resulting boon to Memphis’ perimeter D was clear, and it forced the Dubs outside their comfort zone for what was perhaps the first time all year.
Steve Kerr may want to consider a few tweaks offensively going forward. Thompson was bottled up to a high degree by Tony Allen, and Kerr could consider some misdirection either on or off the ball to attempt to free Klay from that matchup more regularly. Golden State could also just work a few unexpected wrinkles into things to confuse the Griz, who seem to have keyed in on some of their preferred stuff. But in the end, what will matter most for the Warriors as they try to regain home court advantage will be their shooting, and it’s unlikely to be so putrid again.
#5 – Memphis Grizzlies
This was one of the best games Memphis has played all season. They took Golden State out of their rhythm, a task almost no one has accomplished even over what’s nearly a 90-game sample this year, and stuck to an excellent game plan from Dave Joerger to gut out a rare victory at Oracle Arena.
Conley was fantastic on both ends, shooting 8-12 with his biggest makes coming at the beginning and end of the game when Memphis needed the boost. He was great defensively and allowed Allen to mostly harass Thompson while he did about as good a job on Curry as any individual in the league is capable of.
Of low-key importance once again was Memphis’ obvious attempts to isolate Draymond Green defensively, and it worked Tuesday night. He picked up his second foul just three minutes into the game along with a silly technical, and his resulting absence allowed the Griz to storm out to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way. The Warriors are just a different team without him on the floor, and expect Memphis to continue drawing from this well until it either stops working or forces Golden State to change things up defensively.
It’s tough to say if they can sustain it once the Dubs find their often-ridiculous shooting stroke again, but don’t discount the Grizzlies’ role in causing some of these issues. They should be prepared for adjustments, but if they can stick to the script and continue to get sterling performances from Conley and their front line, this could be more of a series than we thought.
Who Wins Game 3?
Boy, one of the toughest calls of the playoffs so far. But this is a Warriors team that has responded incredibly well to adversity this year, and I see this and their still-wide talent gap regaining them home advantage in Game 3.
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