The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Golden State Warriors 134-95 at home in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinals series on Wednesday to cut Golden State’s lead to just 3-2 heading into Game 6.
Down 3-1 with their backs up against the wall, the Memphis Grizzlies had nothing to lose in Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night and they certainly played like it.
Memphis beat the breaks off of Golden State and after leading by 55 points at one point, they ended up defeating the Warriors 134-95.
From the opening tip, the Grizzlies controlled this game and it seemed like the Warriors were not ready for this fight, which is surprising given how physical this series has been all along.
Klay Thompson was hitting some shots early on and Golden State did not look terrible in the first quarter of play, but bad shots, lack of interior defense and turnovers ended up being their Achilles heel in this one.
As for the Grizzlies, they have continued to prove that they can win games without All-Star Ja Morant and backup point guard Tyus Jones has been spectacular all year long, earning himself a nice raise for when he becomes a free agent this offseason.
The momentum in this series has shifted a little bit in favor of the Grizzlies, but still up 3-2 and heading back home, the Warriors will undoubtedly be heavy favorites for Game 6 on Friday.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from the Grizzlies massacre of the Warriors in Game 5.
So many things factored into this loss for the Warriors, but all of their careless turnovers only made matters worse.
At halftime, Golden State had turned the ball over a total of 14 times and for the game, they finished with 22 turnovers. From these 22 turnovers, the Grizzlies scored 29 total points.
For a championship-level team like the Warriors, this simply cannot happen and turnovers have been a problem for them as of late, as they are now averaging 18.0 turnovers per game in this series against Memphis.
You have to give a lot of credit to head coach Taylor Jenkins and the job he has done with the Grizzlies defensively, but a lot of these turnovers the Warriors had were of their own doing.
Whether it was a low/high pass, stepping out of bounds, throwing the ball away without any communication with one another… Just too many things stacked up for the Warriors in terms of turnovers in this game.
Moving forward into Game 6 and possibly into the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors are really going to have to take pride in their offensive possessions because they are just throwing away opportunities to score.
In Game 3 of this series, the Warriors scored 142 total points and shot over 60% from the floor, showcasing what they can do with the basketball on the offensive-end of the floor.
Scoring is not a problem for this team, but if they never have opportunities to score because of careless turnovers, then they will continue to play from behind in games.
As crazy as it sounds, the Grizzlies are a much better offensive team without Ja Morant on the floor because of a couple of reasons.
Not only do they spread the ball more with him out of the game, creating defensive miscues by their opponents, but they are tough to guard because they do not have a clear-cut No. 1 option with Morant on the bench.
Is it Tyus Jones? Is it Desmond Bane? Is it Jaren Jackson Jr.?
The Grizzlies have so many guys that can score on any given possession and without Ja Morant constantly having the ball in his hands, there is no telling as to who could take the shot late in the shot-clock.
In Game 5, Jones, Bane and Jackson Jr. each had 21 points, Dillon Brooks had 12 points and Brandon Clarke, Ziaire Williams and De’Anthony Melton combined for 32 points off-the-bench.
The Grizzlies shot 47.5% from the floor in this game and 43.9% from three-point range, getting plenty of their primary and secondary talents involved offensively.
Getting production from all over the place without Ja Morant in Games 4 and 5 of this series has really caused some headaches for the Warriors, and they are going to need to re-think their game plans heading into Game 6 on Friday.
You cannot prevent Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson from getting hot at any point in the game, but what the Grizzlies have really done a good job of over their last two games without Ja Morant is limiting Golden State’s open looks from the perimeter.
The Warriors’ starting lineup has consisted of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga and Draymond Green.
Of these five players, Memphis has really focused on defending Curry and Thompson coming off of screens and they are more than happy to let any of the other three Warriors’ players take a jump shot because they are simply playing the odds.
Draymond Green is not a scoring machine, Jonathan Kuminga is still a work-in-progress and Andrew Wiggins can be a very streaky shooter as well.
When Draymond has the ball at the top of the three-point line, we are starting to see Memphis take steps back and almost form a wall around the paint and wherever Curry/Thompson are, leaving Draymond Green open on the perimeter.
If Green shoots and makes it, so be it, but the Grizzlies have a much better chance of winning the game if Green, Wiggins and Kuminga are taking 20-plus shots rather than Curry and Thompson.
This has worked thus far for the Grizzlies, so it will be very interesting to see what adjustments Golden State makes heading into Game 6, especially given that they may still be without head coach Steve Kerr due to health and safety protocols.
Brett Siegel joined FastBreak on Fan Nation in April 2022 after previously covering the NBA for NBA Analysis Network and working with Louisville Basketball, aiding in daily operations, scouting and recruiting. From playing to coaching to covering the game as a credentialed NBA media member, Brett has been involved with the game of basketball from many different perspectives. Breaking the news of Andre Drummond signing with the Lakers in 2021, as well as other key stories around the league, Brett is always on the phone, getting the latest news and rumors around the NBA. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @BrettSiegelNBA.