On Wednesday night, the Memphis Grizzlies had nothing to lose in Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors, down 3-1 with their backs against the wall.
Memphis took advantage of Golden State’s mistakes and defeated the Warriors 134-95 after leading by 55 points at one point.
The Grizzlies dominated this game from the start, and it appeared as though the Warriors were not prepared for this fight, which is surprising given how physical this series has been all along.
Klay Thompson was making jumpers early on, and Golden State did not seem awful in the first quarter, but poor shots, a lack of interior defense, and turnovers proved to be their undoing.
The Grizzlies have proven that they can win games without All-Star Ja Morant, and backup point guard Tyus Jones has been outstanding all season, earning himself a hefty raise for when he becomes a free agent this year.
The Grizzlies’ momentum has changed slightly in this series, but with a 3-2 lead and returning home, the Warriors will surely be huge favorites for Game 6 on Friday.
Here are the three most important lessons from the Grizzlies’ Game 5 thrashing of the Warriors.
Turnovers Continue To Plague The Warriors
So many factors contributed to the Warriors’ defeat, but their careless turnovers only worsened matters.
Golden State had turned the ball over 14 times by halftime, and they completed the game with 22 turnovers. The Grizzlies scored 29 points off of these 22 turnovers.
This cannot happen for a championship-level club like the Warriors, and turnovers have been an issue for them recently. They are now averaging 18.0 turnovers per game in this series versus Memphis.
You have to give head coach Taylor Jenkins credit for the defensive work he has done with the Grizzlies, but many of the Warriors’ turnovers were their fault.
It was a low/high pass, stepping out of bounds, or tossing the ball away without communicating… The Warriors simply had too many of them in this game in terms of turnovers.
Moving ahead into Game 6 and maybe the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors will have to take pleasure in their offensive possessions since they are squandering scoring chances.
In-Game 3 of this series, the Warriors scored 142 points and shot over 60% from the field, demonstrating what they can accomplish with the basketball on the offensive end.
Scoring is not an issue for this squad, but they will continue to lose games if they never get chances to score because of sloppy errors.
Grizzlies More Dangerous Offensively Without Ja Morant
As strange as it may sound, the Grizzlies are a far stronger offensive team without Ja Morant on the court for various reasons.
With Morant on the bench, they distribute the ball more, causing defensive miscues for their opponents, but they are also difficult to stop because they lack a clear-cut No. 1 option.
Is Tyus Jones involved? Is it Desmond Bane? Is Jaren Jackson Jr. involved?
The Grizzlies have so many players who can score on any given possession, and without Ja Morant continually having the ball in his hands, it’s impossible to predict who will take the shot late in the shot clock.
Jones, Bane, and Jackson Jr. had 21 points in Game 5, Dillon Brooks had 12, and Brandon Clarke, Ziaire Williams, and De’Anthony Melton combined for 32 points off the bench.
In this game, the Grizzlies hit 47.5 percent from the field and 43.9 percent from the three-point range, utilizing various major and secondary offensive players.
Getting production from all over the place in Games 4 and 5 of this series has given the Warriors some issues, and they will need to rethink their game plans moving into Game 6 on Friday.
Memphis Has A Game Plan To Stop Warriors’ Offense
You can’t stop Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson from getting hot at any moment in the game. Still, the Grizzlies have done an excellent job limiting Golden State’s open looks from the perimeter in their previous two games without Ja Morant.
Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga, and Draymond Green have been the Warriors’ starting lineups.
Memphis has concentrated on protecting Curry and Thompson coming off screens, and they are more than happy to allow any of the other three Warriors to take a shot because they are simply playing the odds.
Draymond Green isn’t a scoring machine, Jonathan Kuminga is still developing, and Andrew Wiggins may be a streaky shooter.
When Draymond has the ball at the top of the three-point line, Memphis begins to back off and practically create a wall around the paint and wherever Curry/Thompson are, leaving Draymond Green free on the perimeter.
If Green shoots and makes it, that’s fine, but the Grizzlies have a far greater chance of winning if Green, Wiggins, and Kuminga take 20-plus shots instead of Curry and Thompson.
This has worked well for the Grizzlies so far. It will be intriguing to watch what modifications Golden State makes before Game 6, especially considering they may still be without head coach Steve Kerr due to health and safety procedures.