A seven-game series is all about adjustments, but in the third game between the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies, things became insane.
The Warriors and Grizzlies come to blows until the very end of the first game. Game 2 bore the imprint of Ja Morant, and there was a verbal exchange. Due to an elbow injury, the Warriors have lost Gary Payton II. A one-game penalty cost the Grizzlies Dillon Brooks.
Game 3 did not resemble the previous two games
In addition to roster changes, and with Jonathan Kuminga starting in his first postseason game, the Warriors’ style of play shifted dramatically in their favor.
The Warriors implemented a zone defense to disrupt the Grizzlies’ tempo. It was successful. The Grizzlies made several three-pointers, but the Warriors shot better. Far, far superior.
Golden State made 17 of 32 3-point tries, while Memphis made 16 of 43. That essentially nullified one another. The deciding factor was in the paint, which should have been Grizzlies territory.
In contrast, the Warriors dominated the paint. They outscored the Grizzlies by 18 points on the interior, which likely surprised the club with the highest interior scoring average in the NBA. Another absurd twist.
Morant scored 34 points, but the new defensive strategy shut down his teammates. On the opposite side, Steph Curry (30 points), Klay Thompson (21 points), Jordan Poole (27 points), and Andrew Wiggins (17 points) collaborated to construct a 30-point advantage.
The Warriors were in an offensive flow, shooting 63 percent from the field. If a team hits like the Warriors, it would require an instant classic, supernova performance from Morant, and exemplary contributions from everyone else.
Unfortunately, none of these occurred in Game 3. Morant injured his knee late in the game while battling Poole for a loose ball, to add insult to injury. He hobbled off the field and will undoubtedly miss Game 4. The severity of the damage will alter the course of the series.
After the game, Morant tweeted “broke the code” about Game 2’s “dirty play” discussion. The Warriors denied any intentional harm. But with the 30-point blowout in a tightly contested series, they did break some taboos.
The Grizzlies must make a significant shift by Game 4 themselves to make things competitive.
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