The Memphis Grizzlies staved off elimination in a must-win Game 5 when they absolutely destroyed the Golden State Warriors 134-95. The Grizzlies stayed alive, but they’re still down 3-2 in the series with Game 6 slated for Friday night in San Francisco.
The Grizzlies pulled off the clutch victory in Game 5 without All-Star point guard Ja Morant, who missed his second consecutive game with a knee injury. Morant was diagnosed with a bone bruise, which happened sometime in Game 3. The Grizzlies insist that Jordan Poole from the Warriors caused the injury when he grabbed Morant’s knee during the pursuit of a loose ball, yet replays indicate that Morant injured his knee earlier in the game when he banged into Klay Thompson during a defensive play.
The Warriors are -8 favorites at home in Game 6. They hold a 3-2 lead and need just one more win to clinch the series and advance to the Western Conference finals. The Warriors are -1100 odds to win the series while the Grizzlies are +700 odds to pull off a huge upset.
The Warriors are no longer the outright favorite to win the 2022 NBA championship. In its latest update, DraftKings lists the Phoenix Suns as the betting favorite at +200 odds with the Warriors at +250 odds to win the title. The Grizzlies are the long shot on the futures board at +6500 odds.
Warriors: never showed up in Game 5
The entire series between the Grizzlies and Warriors has been extremely physical, especially after Grizzlies’ forward Dillon Brooks got suspended for one game for a hard and cheap foul against Gary Payton II at the start of Game 2, which caused a fractured elbow.
In Game 5, the Warriors played passively from the opening tip and looked tentative all night. It seemed like the Warriors were more worried about the Grizzlies ambushing them in retaliation for Morant’s injury.
The Warriors fell behind by double digits in the first quarter and trailed by 27 at halftime. The Grizzlies pulled away in the third quarter, outgunning the Warriors 42-17. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Warriors trailed 119-67 or by 52 points. The entire fourth quarter was garbage time, but the Warriors’ scrubs managed to save face and only lost by 39 points.
The Warriors were plagued by 22 turnovers in Game 5, and were outrebounded by the Grizzlies 55-37.
“It was awful,” said Thompson. “It was embarrassing from the opening tip. We didn’t have great flow. They were more aggressive than us, reflecting their 30 free throws to our 13.”
For the second consecutive game, head coach Steve Kerr was sidelined with COVID-19. Assistant coach Mike Brown took on head coaching duties and his first playoff loss after winning Game 4 in San Francisco on Monday. A frustrated Brown benched his zombie-like starters with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“Not pretty,” said Brown. “Glad it’s over. On to the next game.”
Grizzlies: no Ja, no problem
The Grizzlies were fired up from the opening tip and never let off the gas. They scored a franchise-record 77 points in the first half, including 25 points off turnovers.
“Obviously, this was a very impressive win for our group, great bounce-back for sure,” said Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins.
The Grizzlies’ top three scorers — Desmond Bane, Tyus Jones, and Jaren Jackson, Jr. — each notched 21 points. Overall, seven players scored double digits and nine players score nine or more points.
“We knew what was at stake,” said Jackson. “We didn’t change anything, though. Just calmed down, looked at the film, understand what we had to take away from the last game, and just went out there and executed.”
“We’ve exceeded expectations ever since I’ve been here,” added Bane. “It almost seems whenever someone thinks we can’t do something, we end up doing it. So, I never want to put a limit on this team on what we can do because anything’s possible.”
The Grizzlies won their first elimination game in this year’s postseason. They face another one with Game 6, but they’ll have to win a road game. The Warriors are undefeated at home in the playoffs with a 5-0 record, and the Grizzlies are 2-3 on the road this postseason.
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