Game 4: Warriors Even Series in Grizz Loss

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The Memphis Grizzlies had everything to prove heading into Game 4. They had stolen home court advantage in Game 2 from the Warriors and needed a win to head back to the Oracle Arena 3-1. They had started to get the recognition they deserved as a competitor. The return of a masked Mike Conley, who played with a vengeance, led to two wins over the Warriors that left Grizz fans fired up. The Grizzlies hard-nosed defense had reared its’ head and the Warriors were not making the offensive splash they had been known for in the regular season. However, that would not be the headline of the night. Instead the Grizzlies would drop Game 4 to the Warriors 101-84 in a sloppy, lethargic performance that lacked any sign of the play that had propelled the Grizzlies to their 2-1 lead. The Grizzlies would not be heading to Oracle Arena up 3-1. Instead the series would be evened, 2-2.

The first half the Warriors dictated the pace of the game. Draymond Green who had been shooting 30% in the first 3 games of the series shot 57.1% in the first half, accounting for 11 of the Warriors points. The Splash Brothers who had been held to 42.6% shooting the prior two games were shooting 47.8%. The Grizzlies, rushing to keep up with the fast-paced, hot shooting Warriors committed 10 turnovers, resulting in 9 Warriors’ points. It was the shooting percentage and lack of grit and grind ball that would be the story of the first half. The Grizzlies would only shoot 38.8%. The Warriors outscored the Grizzlies in the paint by 4, clogging the paint defensively. Marc Gasol would find himself double teamed and shooting 35.7% and Mike Conley, the Masked Valuable Player, would only shoot 3/8 finding most of his success from outside. The Grizzlies would finish the first half down by 17.

The second half would continue just like the first was played. The Warriors defensive adjustments would keep the Grizzlies out of the paint. Their run and gun offense would be contagious. The Grizzlies would continue with poor shot selection and finish the game shooting 37.5%. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley combined shot 32.4% from the floor. In case I need to spell it out, that is a recipe for disaster. The Warriors would end the game 47.5% from the field and 42.8% from three. The Splash Brothers combined for 48 points, 10 points more than their 38 average over the last 3 games. The Warriors ball movement would force the Grizzlies to over-help, leaving an open man and uncontested outside shoots. The game would be played with the offensive juggernaut that the Warriors are known to be. They dominated, there’s really nothing more to it than that. The Warriors adjusted. Everyone knew they were not going to be an easy team to beat, last night, the Grizzlies were reminded why.

The biggest question of the game was the under utilization of Tony Allen. In the previous two games that resulted in a Grizzlies wins Tony played an average of 35 minutes and recorded 4 steals in each of those games. In Game 4 he would find himself spending most of his minutes on the bench, only seeing just under 16 minutes of playing time. The defensive adjustment made by Warrior’s coach, Steve Kerr, that put a larger Bogut on Tony left him open as an offensive liability. Despite this fact I remain solid in my opinion that the Grizzlies offense feeds on their defense. While Tony’s 2/9 shooting was hard to swallow, the lack of the heart that his presence brings to the floor was demoralizing. The defense never got started and it was obvious that the offense was flat. It was hard watching the Grizzlies struggle defensively. It was hard watching a team that is so focused on paint play and defense find themselves in such a hole that for the majority of the second half they had to be completely focused on leaving shooters on the floor. Not like any of us could forget but the Warriors were able to push the lead to 26. Ultimately, the pressure has been pushed back onto the Grizzlies. Am I happy about that? No. However, this team knows how to play with their backs against the wall. They are seasoned, they are playoff experienced and I still believe that they have what it takes to head to the Western Conference Finals.

Game 5 will be on Wednesday and it’s not hard to say what the keys to winning that game are. It’s pretty simple actually; neutralize some of the outside scoring, body up on Draymond Green, enforce a physicality into the game that will slow the pace and make better shot selections. I am also going to plug, quite shamelessly, that an aggressive, dominant Marc Gasol is going to have to happen. Zach can put this team on his back but he needs his brother from another mother to back him up. This is the NBA and Game 4 was just one game. The Grizzlies have won in Oracle Arena once and they can do it again. Tune in to TNT Wednesday night at 9:30pm and believe with your team! This series isn’t over, as a matter of fact I believe the battle has just begun.

Tabitha Smith

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