Just what in the hell is going on here?
The 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors weren’t just an awesome team. They were historically awesome. Steve Kerr posted the best-ever winning percentage for a rookie head coach. Golden State’s net rating of 11.4 was 4.5 points ahead of the second-place Clippers. (L.A.’s net rating was closer to ninth place than first place.) Basically, the Warriors were a combination of a mid-90s Knicks defense and a fully operational 2014 offensive death machine, playing at a pace that was suffocating for most teams.
Which makes this second-round Grizzlies-Warriors series fairly shocking. Memphis was certainly capable of winning games in this series, but they’ve made Golden State’s offense look shockingly mortal in the two games since Mike Conley’s return. Tony Allen is hopping around, wreaking havoc and stealing Klay Thompson’s lunch money. Memphis’s bigs refuse to be abused on pick-and-rolls. As Golden State works insanely hard for open looks, they don’t seem to have the legs to hit a high volume of threes like they did in the regular season.
On the other side of the ball, the Grizzlies’s offense hasn’t looked pretty. But they’re determined to challenge Draymond Green in the post when he guards Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. They’re being smart about pushing the ball and creating semi-transition opportunities, at times catching the Warriors napping on defense. And their getting some timely jump shots to fall from their entire cast of characters.
Of course, it’s easy to overreact, and I’m not sure anyone would be surprised if Golden State ran off three straight blowouts. But Memphis deserves lots of credit for making a very confident Warriors team look outright shook on the court through three games.
Game four is Monday.
Photo via Getty