We’ve parsed and parsed how the Grizzlies tend to beat up on Golden State. Tonight was of that theme, and it fit the old, boring narratives. Size trumped smalls. Rebounding. Second chances.
If losing games were autopsies, then many come in the form of bodies still and cold for murky reasons. Was it an aneurism? Asphyxiation? Did an over reliance on jump shots make the deceased soften to the point of losing his heart?
This game was a decapitated man. Once glance at a not-so-glancing-blow and you knew it. Size. Second chances. Boards. Need Bogut. Waiting for Godogut. Write it up.
The Warriors gave Memphis three point attempts, possibly by design. The Grizzlies try the second fewest threes in the league and GSW may have packed in the paint in a gamble that Memphis would miss.
Miss they did and it’s one of the reasons why this loss burns so much. The Grizzlies hit only two of 17 threes and still controlled and won this game. Imagine if they’d been a little luckier on some of their open threes?
Rebounding was the obvious deciding factor but it has very little to do with why Memphis can be enjoyable for stretches. Their defense is a symphony, conducted by Marc Gasol. He stands behind his swarm, directing, shouting and pointing.
I once traveled to Egypt and encountered a driving culture that was totally beyond my sense of what dangerous should be. So many cars swirled around laneless freeways, as though strewn rapidly by a giant food processor. It was terrifying, and I couldn’t comprehend the lack of car accidents in the absence of lanes, lights, and signs.
The driver informed me that Egyptians communicate through horn honks. Little beeps, sharp beeps, long blaring beeps, it was all part of a language that I tuned out while fearing for my life. Every Egyptian talked with his horn, and noise was making sense of what looked like chaos to your eyes.
We forget just how integral talking can be for a defense. Marc Gasol isn’t yelling because he’s revving his teammates up like a Spanish Ray Lewis; He’s telling them where to be, according to what the offense is doing. Something as prosaic as speaking is vital out there. Ironically, we don’t really talk about it.
To further heighten his awareness amid the seeming chaos, Gasol extends his arms out and grazes the opposing players who float around his sphere. It doesn’t count as a foul because it’s merely a touch. But without the contact in this non-contact sport, Marc would be a lesser defender.
Your Shaky Cam Interview Question of Stephen Curry
Also impressive were Mike Conley’s attempts to track Stephen Curry through the fray. Curry ended up 22 points and four three pointers, but not much of it came easily. I asked Steph about Conley’s efforts on the defensive end:
Mike Conley had a typically understated, effective offensive performance on a team with a lot of offensive flaws. He’s better every time I see him play and I believe that his role on this post-centric team depresses his numbers below what they should be.
What about the Warriors?
- As goes David Lee, so go the Warriors, apparently. Sometimes, guys just have bad games. The Dubs just can’t really afford to suffer Lee’s bad games when he’s playing next to offense-last Festus Ezeli.
- Golden State also can’t afford for Jarrett Jack to leave Jarrett Jack God Mode in the past. Since injuring his elbow against the Clips, Jack’s looked a bit off.
- Harrison Barnes continues to look incredible whenever he involves himself. Harrison Barnes continues to rarely involve himself.
- Ezeli Hands made some plays. One of those plays was a hilarious accidental assist to Stephen Curry, though. Ezeli Hands only know destruction, which is helpful on defense. All that karate chopping isn’t so helpful on offense, though.
- It’s more Waiting for Godogut. Without him, it’s hard to see how the Warriors can get to the second round of the playoffs. At least Andrew was seen working out, pre-game.