Somehow, the Golden State Warriors found a way to finish off the Memphis Grizzlies and earn their ticket to the Western Conference Finals. After an embarrassing loss in Game 5, the Warriors responded with a 110-96 win at home to earn a 4-2 series victory.
The Warriors have inserted Kevon Looney into Jonathan Kuminga’s starting lineup, who has played only sparingly throughout this series. While some fans were clamoring for Jordan Poole to start, interim head coach Mike Brown went for Looney’s size. Looney arguably delivered the best performance of his career.
The Dubs took a 16-8 lead, but several unforced turnovers opened the door for Dillon Brooks to fire the Grizzlies into the game. This sequence would repeat itself over and over again.
The Warriors led 30-26 at the end of the first quarter, but their lead could have easily been extended to double digits. Klay Thompson was already displaying the “Game 6 Klay” heroism that likely earned him his ticket to the Hall of Fame, but the Dubs’ turnovers were holding them back.
Brooks again decided to upset the Warriors and their fans. On a missed shot, Brooks grabbed Curry on his shoulders and pulled him to the ground. Thompson immediately got in Brooks’ face, and each of them received technical fouls even though Brooks pulled away from Thompson. The referees decided to review the game and rightfully rated Brooks with a blatant 1.
The Warriors should have at least had a double-digit halftime lead. They played exceptional defense in the first half and shot 40.7% from behind the arc, but abysmal efficiency on two-point shots (7 for 25) and their continued rotational problems (11 in the first half). time) left the door open to Memphis. . Golden State only led 53-51.
The third quarter was more or less similar. Thompson looked to go nuclear early, hitting three straight shots including a hotly contested midrange jumper, but the Warriors gave in to Memphis’ defensive focus and couldn’t lean on Klay like Dub Nation got used to. . Rather than pull out, Golden State held on to a single-digit lead. Then came even more turnovers.
Golden State had a comedic streak midway through the quarter, throwing errant passes on three of four possessions. Without their leading scorer, the Grizzlies needed the Dubs to string together several empty possessions to nibble on the lead. They got it. They briefly took the lead before the end of the third, but the Warriors led 78-77 going into the final quarter.
The Warriors finally slowed things down in the final 12 minutes of regulation and were rattled by their turnovers. But asking the Grizzlies to trail them offensively for just one quarter was a much easier task than demanding it for 48 minutes. Golden State seemed to miss its chances to pull away, and Brooks – who will likely haunt Dub Nation for years to come – found his stroke again, nailing a back three corner on Andrew Wiggins to make it a one-possession play. . Then Desmond Bane added another triple to give Memphis an 89-87 lead with 6:55 left in regulation.
The answer didn’t come from Thompson, or Curry, or Draymond Green. It was Andrew Wiggins. He was the only Warrior player ever considered a bust. He was the only Warriors starter on Friday who did not win an NBA championship.
The shot clock was running out and Wiggins knocked down a pull-up three. He stole the ball from Brooks on the next possession and turned it into an easy dunk. Then another misfire from Brooks put Golden State in transition where Curry was left alone on the right wing.
The Warriors’ paradox is the juxtaposition of such incredible and ugly basketball. Every possession has the potential to be a great display of ball movement that ends in a three-point swish. Every possession also feels like someone has the potential to throw an inaccurate pass into the stands.
Golden State’s offense was lousy outside of Thompson’s shot for three and a half quarters, but the switch was hit. Wiggins delivered a big basket while forcing two huge saves that culminated in a Steph Curry swish, putting the Warriors up six. In this game, six points felt like 16.
Looney capped off his incredible performance with multiple offensive rebounds in the closing minutes, including one that set up Thompson for a final dagger three. Looney played 35 minutes, scored only 4 points, but grabbed 22 rebounds (11 offensive).
Thompson scored a team-high 30 on 11 on 22 shooting from the field. Curry finished with an ineffective 29 points, which mostly came when the Warriors finally put the game aside in the final minutes.
Still, there is evidence that Wiggins was their most valuable player. He played 41 minutes of tenacious defense, mostly against Brooks, and recorded 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block. Wiggins has been criticized for his inconsistent efforts and tendency to disappear throughout his career, but he was everywhere on Friday.
The Warriors now have some time to rest. Either way, they’ll get more rest than their opponent in the Western Conference Finals. They will face the winner of Game 7 between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks, which takes place on Sunday, May 15 in Phoenix at 5:00 p.m. PT. If the Suns win this game, the Warriors will travel to Phoenix for Games 1 and 2. If the Mavs win, the Dubs will host the first two games of the series.