Golden State caught the Beale St. blues
The Golden State Warriors must have been shell-shocked after dropping Game 2, the same night Steph Curry won his NBA MVP award. The Memphis Grizzlies continued the pattern from Game 2 in Oakland and did not allow Curry to heat up. Memphis is playing like they have the MVP on their side and they call him Mike Conley. The Grizzlies laid a Beale St. beatdown on the Warriors and took Game 3 by a score of 99-89.
For a team that scored 110 points per game in the regular season, the Warriors have now been held to 90 and 89 in back-to-back games against the relentless Memphis defense. Just like in Game 2, the Grizzlies held the MVP to a poor shooting night. While Curry did finish with a team high 23 points, he was only 8-of-21 from the field and 2-of-10 from beyond the arc. Klay Thompson had a decent night with 20 points, but was never able to catch fire like the Grizzlies are fully aware he is capable of. Tony Allen was again the defensive energizer that kept the crowd in the game, and he frustrated Golden State all night long. Allen finished with 8 points, 4 steals, 5 rebounds and a block. And the importance of having Conley back, especially on the defensive end, has proven to be huge for Memphis in two straight games and two straight Grizzlies wins.
Memphis also controlled the paint in Game 3, scoring 48 of their 99 points there, compared to only 32 for Golden State. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol got back to being the dominant front court they are; Gasol had 21 points and 15 boards while Z-Bo chipped in 22 points and eight boards. They also held the Warrior’s centers, Bogut and Ezeli to two points each. The Grizz also made sure Draymond Green had a hand in his face all night, as Green shot 1-of-8 from the field and 1-of-6 from 3-point range, finishing with just six points. Only three Warriors finished with double-digit scoring (Curry, Thompson, Barnes) and for the second time in two straight games the Warriors had only 39 points at the break.
The Grizzlies game plan has been pretty simple: stop Golden State from hitting three’s, and the execution of that plan over the last two games has been near perfect. You’re not going to be able to stop Steph Curry from getting his points, but you have to avoid him getting into that rhythm where the hoop looks like the ocean. The Grizzlies have held the leagues best 3-point shooting team to 6-of-26 from beyond the arc in the last two games. It’s no coincidence that Memphis won both games. Now that Memphis has stolen home court advantage with a 2-1 series edge with two games left in each city, Warriors coach Steve Kerr says, “It’s now the moment of truth.” Steve could not have summed up the Warriors situation any better. Teams that win Game 4 and go up 3-1 in the series have a 96.2% chance of winning the series. If the team that is up 2-1 loses Game 4, then their chances of winning the series drops to 50%.
I do know one thing from first hand experience, the Grind House in Memphis will be ready for Game 4 come Monday night. The Golden State Warriors better be ready too. The Grizzlies seem to have found a formula for success against the Warriors. The overall season series between these two teams, regular season and playoffs, is now tied at three wins apiece. So the Grizzlies have won as many games against Golden State this year as they have lost. The same Golden State team that was the league’s best team all year long. Another key thing to remember is Mike Conley did not play in two of the three losses to Golden State this year. So, if we’re late into Game 4 in Memphis and Mike Conley steps to the free-throw line, don’t be surprised if you hear an echoing chant come from the raucous Grind House crowd…M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P!
Here are a few of the moments from inside the Grind House during Game 3…
Have the Grizzlies figured out the Golden State Warriors? What has been your impression of this series so far? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Brandon covers the NBA & Memphis Grizzlies for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid.
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You can follow Brandon on Twitter @New_Breid