The duel that everyone had been waiting for and hoping for for several months had finally arrived. By: The youth, insolence and enthusiasm of the Grizzlies, led by Ja Morante, All-Star for the first time in his career this season and voted Most Improved Player, Desmond Bean and Garen Jackson Jr. And on the other hand: Hybrid Warriors, with their three heroes Stephen CurryAnd Draymond Green And Klay Thompsonand a group of young talents and veterans who once again helped them become one of the favorites in the Western Conference after two years without the playoffs.
If Memphis had to eliminate Minnesota in the first round, the Warriors dismissed the Nuggets with power. It’s the first time the two teams have met in the playoffs since 2015. It was the first time Steve Kerr took charge of the Warriors and Grizzlies Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph “Grit & Grind” took the lead. The same stage of competition before Golden State finds the key by putting Andrew Bogut, its centerpiece, on Tony Allen, to stop the opponent’s attack and find their rhythm.
The roles are reversed this time. Like the 2015 Warriors, it’s the young Grizzlies who will storm the Western Conference and to achieve their goals, they’ll have to find the show against the veteran Warriors. Memphis has the advantage of playing at home, but Golden State, with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Clay Thompson, have won at least one away game in 24 consecutive playoffs, an NBA record. Who will emerge victorious from this duel? Here are the forces involved.
Swatches: J. Morant, Dee Payne, Dee Brooks, J. Jackson Jr., S. Adams/X. Tillman
Alternatives: T Jones, D. Melton, Z. Williams, K. Anderson, B. Clark, J. Konchar, X. Tillman/S. Adams.
absent: Stephen Adams is currently on the covid protocol.
the coach: T Jenkins.
– Aggressive defense as their launching pad. During the regular season, the Grizzlies were the team that hit the most loose balls (16.3 per game). Taylor Jenkins used his team’s strengths admirably to build an aggressive defense on the ball carrier and active in his rotation thanks to his athletic, physical and fast players. This defensive activity is crucial in allowing Ja Morant and his cohorts to turn these ball losses into a transition where they are hard to stop. The Memphis finished the first round with the third best defense, forcing the Timberwolves to drop nearly 18 balls per game.
– Rise of the opponent’s racket and circle. With Ja Morant up front, the Grizzlies were the team with the most points in a key during the regular season (57.6 points per game). In the first round, they scored 46% of their points in the key and also attacked the offensive rebound fiercely, recovering 30% of their missed shots. This aggressiveness also allowed them to shoot the most free throws per game in the first round. Faced with warriors less powerful than the Timberwolves and with a different defensive strategy, Ja Morant must have more space to attack the circle. Memphis will also be able to go further by increasing the velocity to target Jordan Bull and press the offensive rebound.
– No external address. The Grizzlies’ two strengths serve to compensate for a major weakness, especially in the NBA today, which is their lack of outside threat except for Desmond Payne. The latter was also the most productive 3-point shooter game in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for Memphis, behind it, it is the offense that is in order. The Grizzlies also only take 30% of their shots from behind 7.25m, a mark that puts them at the bottom of the NBA.
– risk. For many, the duel between the Grizzlies and the Timberwolves was the craziest in the first round. One of the main reasons for this result was the many mistakes made by both teams. Memphis managed to pull themselves out of this showdown, but if their lack of toughness is confirmed against a more experienced team like Golden State, this time they won’t have a chance to come back from more than ten points apart to win three games, as they did. against Minnesota.
Five start: S. Carey, K.; Thomson, A.; Wiggins, D.; Green. J. Paul / K. Looney
the seat : k chromatic / c. Ball, J. Payton II, O. Porter Jr., J. Cominga, N. Bellica, J. Toscano-Anderson.
absent : James Wiseman (knee), Andre Iguodala (cervical)
the coach: scare
– Movement and treatment. The Warriors finished the first round with the best offensive in the playoffs behind 42% 3 points. Jordan Bull’s breakout in the first three games and Stephen Curry’s return to the lead prompted Stephen Kerr to start his two point guards in Game Five to put pressure on the overburdened Denver defense. If the coach can start the series with Kevon Looney in the starting lineup, the Warriors will be at their best with Curry, Thompson and Poole on the go, Draymond Green orchestrating this organized chaos, and Andrew Wiggins attacking the circuit. The Memphis defense will have to make choices and can’t “hide” Ja Morant.
– Draymond Green Less Under Pressure. With Nikola Jokic in the rear-view mirror and no interior of this caliber in the Grizzlies, Draymond Green will find a role he especially loves in Second Curtain. Steve Kerr has already declared that he has blind faith in his defense chief and that he will be allowed to do whatever he wants. With Ja Morant threatened, he will have a major role to play in not only protecting the circle but also derailing the Grizzlies’ attack.
– lack of size If Steve Kerr’s “Fast Five” is hard to defend, he’s gaining inches and pounds on the other side. We’ve seen Denver, and particularly Aaron Gordon, during games 4 and 5, relentlessly attack the circuit to take advantage of this lack of size. Those five also have no wiggle room in the recoil. The Nuggets hit 14 offensive rebounds in the first three quarters of Game 5 before the Warriors got up. Golden State have maintained their defensive recovery this season, but they haven’t been able to play these five players together. Finally, with the exception of Jonathan Kominga and Andrew Wiggins, and the absence of Andre Iguodala, this squad lacks athletes who can rival the Grizzlies.
– their waste. Since Steve Kerr arrived at the helm of the Warriors, players are free to try. It gives that altruistic and quick attack that has dominated the NBA for several years, but also gives losses on balls that can fuel the opponent. Memphis is the worst opponent in this regard and only Houston has lost more balls than Golden State this season. If the Warriors go from amazing to reckless, they may have trouble with the series.
– Battle of property and style. Grizzlies’ strengths are Golden State’s weaknesses and vice versa. Admittedly, Warriors should pretty much win the battle for three-pointers, but would that be enough if the Grizzlies could capitalize on their loosing balls and lavish offensive rebounds and free throws? This is the equation to keep in mind throughout this series. So the Warriors will try to force the Memphis to play half the field, force them to take hits from half range and three throws, and limit them to one attempt per possession, while the Memphis will try to run and attack early, limiting the same opportunities to Golden State. Bring out the popcorn!
– Contributions of the second knives. While both defenders will struggle to stop opposing stars, it has been observed that both teams benefited from significant contributions off the bench to complete the first round. Gary Payton II is the warrior most likely to slow Ja Morant but can he still make an impact in the attack? Brandon Clarke dominated the offensive rebound against Minnesota and replaced Yaren Jackson Jr., when fouls set him back nicely. Can he repeat that effort against Golden State? Given the speed and pressure both teams can put on every defense, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the focal points of this series, Stephen Adams and Kevin Looney, on the bench for the next two weeks. Could Jonathan Cominga or Zayer Williams be a surprise X Factor? The two coaches will have to reduce their rotations and find solutions from match to match. Whoever emerges victorious from this game of chess will reach the final of the conference.
October 28, 2021: Golden State – Memphis (101-104)
December 23, 2021: Golden State – Memphis (113-104)
January 11, 2022: Memphis – Golden State (116-108)
March 28, 2022: Memphis – Golden State (123-95)
The step between declining Nuggets and Grizzlies pieces is high, but the step between inexperienced Timberwolves and Warriors with heroes’ DNA is more than that. However, Memphis has many weapons to throw in, starting with the Ja Morant who should be more comfortable against the Golden State molds.
However, the Grizzlies struggled to get out of that first round. They have shown a good face in recent quarters but have also made mistakes that will undoubtedly be very costly against the Warriors. Steve Kerr’s guys know how to handle an opponent like the Grizzlies and know how important every possession is in the playoffs. The Grizzlies will undoubtedly give them a hard time, but the Golden State won’t crumble like wolves at crucial moments. This gives Golden State an advantage.
Golden State 4-2
Game 1: In Memphis, Sunday May 1 (9:30 p.m., in France)
Game 2: In Memphis, Tuesday, May 3 (3:30 a.m., from Tuesday night to Wednesday in France)
The third game: In San Francisco, Saturday May 7 (2:30 a.m., Saturday night through Sunday in France)
Fourth game: In San Francisco, Monday, May 9 (4:00, Monday-Tuesday in France)
5* game: In Memphis, Wednesday, May 11 (TBD)
6* game: In San Francisco, Friday, May 13 (TBD)
Game 7 *: In Memphis, Sunday, May 15 (TBD)
* If necessary.