Somehow, the Golden State Warriors found a way to weed out the Memphis Grizzlies and secured their tickets to the Western Conference Finals. After an embarrassing loss in Game 5, the Warriors responded with a 110-96 home victory to claim a 4-2 victory.
Warriors included Kevin Looney in the starting line-up for Jonathan Kominga, who has played only minimally throughout the series. While some fans have called for the Jordan Bowl to start, acting head coach Mike Brown opted to pick a looney size. Looney gave the best performance of his career.
Dobbs jumped to a 16-8 lead, but several non-forced turnovers opened the door for Dillon Brooks to shoot the Grizzlies back in the game. This sequence repeats itself over and over.
The Warriors led 30-26 towards the end of the first quarter, but their lead could easily have stretched to double digits. Klay Thompson was already highlighting the “Game 6 Klay” tournaments that may have bumped his ticket to the Hall of Fame, but Dubs’ transformations were keeping them from coming back.
Brooks decided once again to antagonize the Warriors and their fans. With a missed shot, Brooks grabbed Curry by the shoulders and pulled him to the ground. Thompson immediately got Brooks in the face, and technical errors were evaluated for each of them even though Brooks walked away from Thompson. The judges decided to review the play and correctly assessed Brooks with a scandalous 1 hit.
Warriors must have at least a double-digit lead in the first half. They played exceptional defense in the first half and shot 40.7% from behind the arc, but poor quality on two-point shots (7 for 25) and continued spin problems (11 in the first half) left the door open for Memphis. Golden State only led 53-51.
The third quarter was more of the same. Thompson appeared to be a nuclear early goer, making three consecutive shots, including a hotly contested mid-range bird, but the Warriors succumbed to Memphis’ defensive focus and couldn’t lean on Clay the way Dub Nation did. Instead of withdrawing, Golden State kept just a single digit lead. Then came more transformations.
Golden State had a comedy sequence in the middle of the quarter, throwing foul passes on three out of four possessions. Without their scorer, the Grizzlies needed Dubs to accumulate several empty possessions to beat the lead. They were getting it. They took a brief lead before the end of the third inning, but the Warriors took a 78-77 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Warriors finally slowed things down over the last 12 minutes of regulation and regressed in their transformations. But asking the Grizzlies to keep up with their attack for just one quarter was a much easier task than asking them for 48 minutes. Golden State seemed to miss their chances of relinquishing, and Brooks – who will likely chase Dub Nation for years to come – found his shot once more, hitting a three-pointed corner kick on Andrew Wiggins to make it one possession. Desmond then added another three-pointer to give Memphis a 89-87 lead with 6:55 remaining in the standings.
No response came from Thompson, Curry or Draymond Green. It was Andrew Wiggins. He was the only warrior player who was considered a bust. He was the only Warriors player not to win an NBA championship on Friday.
The shot clock was running out, and Wiggins fired three pulls up. He stole the ball from Brooks on the next possession and turned it into an easy dunk. Next, another Brooks misplaced Golden State with a transition leaving Curry alone on the right wing.
The Warriors Paradox is an amazing and ugly basketball juxtaposition. Each possession has the potential to be a beautiful display of a ball’s movement that ends with three points. Each possession also feels the possibility of someone passing an inaccurate pass into the stands.
Golden State’s offense was ugly outside of Thompson’s shot for three and a half quarters, but the key was hit. Wiggins made big basketball while forcing two big stops that culminated in a swish of Steve Curry, raising the Warriors six. In this game, six points felt like 16.
Looney capped off with his stunning performance with several offensive rebounds in the final minutes, including one that prepared Thompson for one final dagger three. Looney played 35 minutes, scored only 4 points, but had 22 rebounds (11 attacks).
Thompson scored a 30-point high for the team in an 11-22 shot from the field. Curry finished with 29 ineffective points, which came primarily when the Warriors finally put the match away in the final minutes.
However, there is a case to be made that Wiggins was the most valuable player they had. He played 41 minutes of a stubborn defense, primarily against Brooks, scoring 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, and one piece. Wiggins has been criticized for his inconsistent efforts and tendency to disappear throughout his career, but he was all over the place on Friday.
Warriors now have a little time to rest. No matter what, they would have more comfort 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 head to Phoenix for matches 1 and 2. If the Mavs win, Dubs will host the first two matches of the series.