Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors (-9.5, 195.5 o/u)
Going into the Western Conference semifinals, it appeared the Golden State Warriors (73-17, 42-3 home) would run all over the Memphis Grizzlies (61-30, 26-19 away). The Grizzlies had struggled a bit down the stretch in the regular season and their star point guard Mike Conley Jr. was suffering from serious facial fractures.
However, here we are at Game 5 (tonight at 10:30 PM Eastern at Oracle Arena) and the series is tied 2-2 thanks to some gritty play by the Grizz – including Conley donning a Russell Westbrook-esque facemask and battling through his injury – and some cold shooting by the Warriors.
For Warriors fans, the series has been a lesson in maturity. The young squad, which relied on the three-ball all year to propel itself to the best record in the NBA, found itself lost offensively when guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson went cold from distance.
All along, Warriors first-year head coach Steve Kerr warned that, in terms of playoff experience, his team was young and had to learn the ins and outs of post-season basketball.
After eight games – the most recent of which was a 101-84 win in Memphis – Kerr is starting to believe that his squad has done just that.
“Tonight we took a step towards understanding that sense of urgency and kind of competitiveness and physicality to the game,” Kerr told ESPN.com. “It was probably our most competitive effort, definitely of the series, but probably of the playoffs just in terms of understanding you got to play every second.”
Curry, the recently named NBA MVP, put in 33 points (including 21 in the first half) to lead the Warriors, while Draymond Green added 16 points and ten rebounds. Thompson (15 points), Harrison Barnes (12 points), and Andre Iguodala (11 points) also scored in double-figures, keeping the Golden State attack somewhat balanced.
However, the real key to the game for the Warriors was defense. The team kept two of Memphis’ three stars in check, limiting Zach Randolph to 12 points and Conley to ten. Center Marc Gasol was still able to get his offense despite being double teamed much of the game, scoring 19 points and adding double-digit rebounds.
Memphis head coach Dave Joerger lamented his team’s offensive execution.
“We lost our composure early in the first half, especially in the first quarter,” said Joerger to ESPN. “Our offense really struggled tonight, and it put our defense in a bad way.”
As for Game 5, Memphis is 6-3-1 ATS in its last ten, and 14-10 ATS as an away dog on the season. That’s why the play is the Grizzlies and the points (+9.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)