The first second-round match between the memphis grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors lived up to the hype. There were players taking the floor, competitive trash talk, and elite shots.
The Grizzlies had a two-point lead when Dillon Brooks and Klay Thompson dived for a fumble with 42.9 seconds remaining. The ball went out of bounds and the Warriors received possession.
Thompson made the Grizzlies pay when he got the ball, dribbled to his left and hit a 3-pointer. The Grizzlies got one more chance when Ja Morant drove to the basket and missed a layup with his left hand as the buzzer sounded.
The The Warriors defeated the Grizzlies 117-116 in Game 1 on Sunday at FedExForum.
Here are some observations from Game 1:
Before the game, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins joked that he knew what his starting lineup would be, but he wasn’t going to let the media know. Jenkins elected to keep his starting lineup from the last three games that includes Xavier Tillman as the starting center. Steven Adams was out due to health and safety protocols, and Ziaire Williams was listed as questionable but missed the game with sore right knee.
The biggest lineup change came from the Warriors, who started Gary Payton II over Jordan Poole. Payton is one of the Warriors’ best defenders. He started Morant, but that didn’t stop the Grizzlies’ point guard from scoring 14 points in the first quarter.
Golden State also began the second half with a new lineup after Draymond Green was expelled near the end of the first half due to a flagrant foul-2 about Brandon Clarke. The crowd chanted “Throw it out” as the referees reviewed the play. The play was ruled flagrant-2, and the Memphis crowd booed Green as he ran off the court raising his arms and cheering the crowd on.
Playoff Basketball Energy at FedExForum
The energy of playoff basketball is different, and this game had several examples of that. Jaren Jackson Jr. had three fouls in the first half and two were questionable calls. After Jackson’s third foul, Jackson nodded and yelled at NBA official James Williams about the call. Williams responded: “I’m trying to talk to you. Calm down!” This was the third or fourth call in which Jenkins had walked up to the umpire demanding answers. He had to be pulled from the umpires during a first-quarter timeout by assistant coach Darko Rajakovic when he thought Morant I had received a foul.
Morant and Green also had a moment of intensity in the playoffs. As Morant prepared to throw the ball, Green stepped a few inches in front of him as the two talked. Green nodded and Morant applauded. The FedExForum crowd erupted in loud applause.
Grizzlies lack defensive intensity in Game 1
Andrew Wiggins stepped under the rim and collected a two-foot wide rebound from the basket. He then he set it up and Morant, who was the closest defender, hit his chest so his teammates would know it was his fault. Jenkins called a possession timeout later and urged his team to play tougher defense. Poole may not have started, but the Grizzlies had no answer for him off the bench. Poole combined with Curry to be the biggest problems for the Grizzlies’ defense.