SAN FRANCISCO – Basketball statistics always even out, and that proved to be detrimental to the Memphis Grizzlies twice on Saturday night against the Golden State Warriors.
First, the Grizzlies made 11 3-pointers in the first half after averaging 11.6 makes in the regular season. The 3-point percentage began trending downward in the second half.
Then there was the Golden State’s shooting. Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson hadn’t played a simultaneously good game in this NBA playoffs series, but that happened in Game 3. The Grizzlies were unable to slow down the Warriors in a 142-112 loss at Chase Center.
Memphis also got some uncharacteristic numbers that may even out later in the series. The Grizzlies led the NBA in rebounding and paint scoring, but Golden State dominated both areas. Thompson also hit a 3-pointer off one foot that kind of summed up the Grizzlies’ night.
Ja Morant led the Grizzlies with 34 points on 13-for-21 shooting. But he walked gingerly to the locker room around the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter with a towel draped over his head. Desmond Bane added 16 points.
Curry, Pole and Thompson combined for 78 points on 26-of-44 shooting.
The Warriors lead the series 2-1. Game 4 will be Monday night at Chase Center (9 pm CT, TNT).
Here are some observations from Game 3:
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Grizzlies (and Warriors) new starting lineups
Dillon Brooks’ one-game suspension led to Ziaire Williams getting the start at small forward. The Warriors went bigger by starting Jonathan Kuminga in place of the injured Gary Payton II.
Steven Adams also returned for the Grizzlies after missing the past three games. Not only did Adams not start, but he did not play rotational minutes. He entered the game when the result was decided in the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies went with a rotation of big men that included Xavier Tillman Sr., Jaren Jackson Jr., Kyle Anderson and Brandon Clarke. The Grizzlies used the same starting lineup to begin the second half, while the Warriors subbed Otto Porter Jr. for Kuminga.
Clarke has been one of the most reliable Grizzlies players during the playoffs, but he was a noticeable minus-23 in the first half at 11:26. Tyus Jones was the next closest Grizzlies player at minus-11.
Missing Dillon Brooks
Brooks was not allowed to be in the arena. Even if he wasn’t playing, his energetic presence alone would have been a boost for the Memphis defense. The Grizzlies ran the Warriors off the 3-point line early, but Golden State got every other look it wanted.
The Warriors shot 70.3% in the first half. The Grizzlies made 11 first half 3-pointers, capped off by a 48-foot buzzer-beater by Morant. The 3-pointers kept the Grizzlies in it for a while, but as those wore off the Warriors kept scoring. In addition to Poole, Thompson and Curry, the Warriors also got a big scoring night from Andrew Wiggins. He had 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting. When Golden State’s top four scorers all have it going, it’ll be hard for Memphis to win.
Morant gets little help
Morant’s halftime buzzer-beater was his best highlight, but he had many more. The All-Star Grizzlies point guard continued his impressive stretch of games against the Warriors’ defense.
The problem was that Morant didn’t get much help. Jackson scored 10 points in the first half but went scoreless in the third quarter. Bane looked better, but he’s still not at 100% while dealing with lower back soreness.
By the end of the third quarter, Morant had 30 points while the other four starters combined for 32. Things weren’t much better from the bench. Golden State looks as if it is emphasizing taking away everything around Morant. So far this series, that strategy is working.
Contact Damichael Cole at email@example.com and on Twitter damichaelc