The Warriors eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday with a 110-96 victory in Game Six of the second round. They will face the winner of Game 7 between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks, scheduled for Sunday.
The win saved the Warriors from even having to consider the possibility of another surprising 3-1 lead, but they certainly tempted fate with the way they played on Friday. Until the final minutes of the fourth quarter, it was a brutal offensive match for every non-fighter named Klay Thompson, who finished the match with 30 points on 11 shots from 22 and eight rebounds.
In total, the Warriors finished 17 turns, one game after scoring 22 turns in Game 5. Stephen Curry and Jordan Paul, usually the engines driving the Warriors attack, combined to fire 14 of 42 from the field.
Fortunately, the 70-44 bounce margin, driven primarily by the 22 kevon looney boards, provided plenty of margin for error.
The Warriors finally found their form after trailing 89-87 with less than seven minutes remaining. From there, the Warriors 18-3 took off. Andrew Wiggins started with a game-changing extension where he made a 3-pointer, stole from Dillon Brooks, dunked, and then stopped back at Brooks resulting in a transitional 3-pointer for Curry.
Klay Thompson transforms into a rebound performance
It’s been 1,065 days since Klay Thompson sustained his first of two devastating injuries of the season and 1,089 days since the Warriors played in the Western Conference Finals.
These facts are closely related.
Game Six Clay returned with a vengeance on Friday, carrying the team’s attack in the first half and delivering what looked like a dagger in the fourth quarter. The spirited Thompson threw six fingers after that shot, knowing full well what he was giving his team.
It’s hard not to get complacent about Thompson, who has looked like he’ll never find the All-Star level again at times, missing two full NBA seasons and slowly making his way this season.
The Grizzlies’ promising season ends with a disappointing ending
The Warriors were fortunate to face the Grizzlies who lost All-Star guard Ja Morant, who missed the last three games of the post-season due to a bruise in his knee bone. However, the Grizzlies still presented a respectable challenge, as they did during the regular season when Morant was injured.
Brooks did his best to go up with 30 points on 11 of 28, although the Grizzlies felt Morant’s absence through substitute star Tyus Jones on night 2 of 12 off the court.
The loss ends a season that held a lot of hope for the Grizzlies, although there are more promising numbers next season. The team still has one of the best young cores in the NBA, if not the best, with Morant (22), Brooks (26), Desmond Payne (23) and Garen Jackson Jr. (22), and there are plenty more. More space for them to grow together.