That’s the number of days it’s been since the Warriors last took a loss in regulation at Oracle Arena. November 11th, 2014: just their seventh game into what would be a historic 67-win campaign and back then, a humbling of sorts. They took a loss to Steve Kerr’s mentor, Gregg Popovich, the team they most admire and the franchise they hope to one day become.
“Now the whole world’s collapsed,” said Draymond Green following the Warriors’ 97-90 loss at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. “The Bay Area’s just been hit by an earthquake. Everything’s going wrong. We’ll be just fine.”
The series is now 1-1, with two daunting games at the laborious Grindhouse beginning on Saturday.
It’s not the loss that’s concerning, it’s the way the Warriors lost that’s most concerning at the infancy stages of this series. The Grizzlies were ferocious on defense, crowding passing lanes, diving after loose balls and looking the aggressor all night. Life was tough on both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson all night, as both combined to shoot 38 percent from the field with only three made three-pointers.
The Warriors missed open looks and numerous shots at the rim, but the Grizzlies made life a living hell for anyone in a white jersey. Klay Thompson was hounded by Tony Allen, who proclaimed his desire to be First Team All-Defense not just following dunks, but throughout Game 2 with active hands, an incredible defensive IQ and the kind of effort his team can thrive off in the coming games.
Curry, fresh off his MVP presentation and ceremony before tip, couldn’t shake free a healthy-enough-to-play Mike Conley, who had an incredible game in his own right. Conley said after the game he didn’t expect to come out and score 22 points, but just “to come out and do what I do for the team.” He not only scored but also was 8-for-12 from the field and provided a level of ease and confidence his Grizzlies team was sorely lacking on the offensive end.
“He’s obviously a big part of their success over the last few years, not just this year,” said Curry after the game. “So they’re more comfortable when he’s on the floor, and you can tell. They know what to expect, especially on the offensive end, he seemed very aggressive to score early and I think they missed that from the point guard position the last game.”
The Warriors didn’t help their cause with 20 turnovers, only their ninth game of the season with 20 or more turnovers. “I thought we lost our poise tonight,” said Kerr. “That was the biggest issue. We were in a rush.”
Green was the only starter with a positive +/- (2) as the starters combined to shoot only 38 percent. The team had success going small in attempts to recharge the offense with Green at center — +12 in eight minutes — but couldn’t sustain it long enough to cause any kind of dent in the Grizzlies lead. Their most versatile lineup was vanquished time and time again by Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who, combined with the efforts of Conley and Allen gave the Warriors constant fits on the perimeter and inside.
“I thought we did an amazing job of putting pressure on the ball,” said Gasol. “That gives them only one way to go, and that makes my job a lot easier guessing which way Steph and Klay are going to go that high on the ball.”
The Warriors have nowhere to go but up as it pertains to shooting percentage, but it won’t be any easier in Memphis, who was 31-10 on their home floor during the regular season. The early season turnover problem reeled back into play on Tuesday, and the Grizzlies are the ideal team – other than San Antonio – to take advantage of them and make you pay.
Conley played fantastic after being a large unknown heading into Game 2. Now, with no games until Saturday, the point guard has ample time to get more acclimated to his mask and heal up for what will be a fierce Memphis crowd. The Warriors must adjust to the reenergized Grizzlies, who have a newfound confidence after beating a team that only lost twice at home all season.
Contrary to some beliefs, the Warriors aren’t perfect and won’t go 16-0 this postseason. The Grizzlies proved why they’ve been a terror for them the last few seasons as they dictated the tempo, caused raucous and forced the Warriors into tough looks all night. The Warriors needed this wake up call, and unfortunately for them, the Grizzlies aren’t leaving anytime soon.