The first second-round meeting between the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors lived up to the hype. There were players diving over the floor, competitive trash talk and elite level shotmaking.
The Grizzlies had a two-point lead when Dillon Brooks and Klay Thompson dived on the floor for a loose ball with 42.9 seconds remaining. The ball was tipped out of bounds, and the Warriors received possession.
Thompson made the Grizzlies pay when he got the ball, took one dribble to his left and made a 3-pointer. The Grizzlies got one more chance down one when Ja Morant drove to the basket and missed a left-handed layup as the buzzer sounded.
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 for being in health and safety protocols, and Ziaire Williams was listed as questionable but missed the game with right knee soreness.
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 out on Morant, but that didn’t prevent the Grizzlies point guard from scoring 14 points in the first quarter.
Golden State also started the second half with a new lineup after Draymond Green was ejected near the end of the first half because of a flagrant-2 foul on Brandon Clarke. The crowd chanted “Throw him out” as the referees reviewed the play. The play was deemed a flagrant-2, and the Memphis crowd booed Green as he ran off the court raising his arms and pumping up the crowd.
Playoff basketball energy in FedExForum
The energy of playoff basketball is different, and this game had several examples of that. Jaren Jackson Jr. picked up three fouls in the first half, and two were questionable calls. After Jackson’s third foul, Jackson headed over yelling at NBA official James Williams about the call. Williams responded, “I’m trying to talk to you. Calm down!” This was about the third or fourth call where Jenkins had walked in the referee’s direction demanding answers. He had to be pulled back from referees during a first quarter timeout by assistant coach Darko Rajakovic when he thought Morant was fouled.
Morant and Green also had a playoff intensity moment. While Morant was preparing to inbound the ball, Green inches in front of him as the two talked. Green nodded his head and Morant was clapping. The FedExForum crowd then burst out into a loud ovation.
Grizzlies’ defensive intensity lacking in Game 1
Andrew Wiggins stood under the rim and collected a wide open rebound two feet from the basket. He then laid it in, and Morant, who was the nearest defender, pounded his chest to let his teammates know it was his fault. Jenkins called a timeout possession later and urged his team to play tougher defense. Poole might 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.