And just like that, the Golden State Warriors are back in the Western Conference Finals for the sixth time in eight years.
The turnovers will give the coaching staff nightmares, but for now we celebrate Game 6 Klay, the heroics of Kevon Looney, and some Andrew Wiggins brilliance.
And we grade the players, weighting for our expectations of each.
Note: League-average true-shooting percentage (TS) this season was 56.6%
39 minutes, 14 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers, 4 fouls, 6-for-14 shooting, 0-for-3 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 47.0% TS, +19
It wasn’t an efficient scoring performance, but it’s still always nice to see Green score in double figures. Everything seems to work better when he’s willing to shoot, and when he’s willing to attack.
The turnovers were dreadful – it felt like he had seven or eight. And the on-ball defense wasn’t quite as good as we’ve come to expect. But Dray is still one of the best players alive, and deserves huge props for his rebounding output.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in assists.
41 minutes, 18 points, 11 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 blocks, 2 fouls, 2 turnovers, 7-for-16 shooting, 3-for-5 threes, 1-for-2 free throws, 53.3% TS, +20
Like so many Warriors, it was not a good first half for Wiggins. But the second half was some of the best basketball he’s ever played.
He knocked in numerous big shots, and had a string of possessions where he took the ball over.
His defense was phenomenal, and he was everywhere on the glass. Were these just second-half grades, he’d be an easy A +.
Still, as it is …
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus / minus.
35 minutes, 4 points, 22 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 2-for-7 shooting, 28.6% TS, +10
Before we praise Looney for his outstanding performance, we need to praise Green and Steph Curry for speaking up against the coaching staff’s bizarre insistence on starting players they don’t want to actually play, as they did with Jonathan Kuminga in Games 4 and 5.
Steven Adams led the Grizzlies with 10 rebounds. Looney had 11 offensive rebounds. He was an animal, and the primary reason why the Dubs had 70 (70 !!!) rebounds in this game.
Looney was a force. And while his scoring wasn’t strong, he did a lot to facilitate the offense. Given that his role has changed from night to night, we can’t say enough about the job he did, returning to the starting lineup, playing 35 minutes, and dominating the paint.
Grade: A +
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
40 minutes, 29 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 10-for-27 shooting, 6-for-17 threes, 3-for-4 free throws, 50.4% TS, +16
Curry was very sweet to the Grizzlies after the game. He embraced Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks. He spoke glowingly to the media of Morant, and the future of the organization. He said he enjoyed their pettiness.
Steph Curry on Ja Morant: “He’s a problem.”
On the Grizzlies: “All the antics and the pettiness and all that, I love it.” pic.twitter.com/urHhqbLcy9
– Anthony Slater (anthonyVslater) May 14, 2022
What he didn’t say is how happy he’ll be to have them in the rear view mirror. Memphis plays Curry better than any team in the NBA, and that was again on display on Friday. Curry simply couldn’t get it going for three and a half quarters. When he finally did find his shot, the buckets began to flow, and he put the game away.
But it wasn’t a very good game for him. You know, by his sky-high standards. On to the next round. Wouldn’t want to be the dude defending him in the Conference Finals.
42 minutes, 30 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 3 turnovers, 2 fouls, 11-for-22 shooting, 8-for-14 threes, 68.2% TS, +14
I want to give Klay an A + for his social media work done from the post-game locker room.
What an icon.
But the game deserves an A + too. Was it Klay’s greatest game, statistically speaking? Not even close. But when the Warriors were turning the ball over like it was going out of style, and getting locked up by Memphis, Klay knocked in shots. And when they started to build a lead, Klay knocked in shots. And when they started to put the game away, Klay knocked in shots.
It was a game that required a tough, tough, TOUGH performance, and Klay delivered it.
Game 6 Klay forever.
Grade: A +
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points.
8 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 foul, 0-for-1 shooting, 0-for-1 threes, 0.0% TS, -2
Bjeli didn’t get very much playing time, but I thought he did fairly well. He crashed the glass more than his numbers suggest, and did decent things on offense.
11 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 foul, 1-for-2 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 75.0% TS, -4
Lee had to play a role in this game with all the injuries the Dubs have accumulated. He held his own, but didn’t look particularly good. He had one very bad turnover, but then again, who didn’t?
Post-game bonus: Worst plus / minus on the team.
24 minutes, 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 4-for-15 shooting, 2-for-11 threes, 2-for-3 free throws, 36.8% TS, -3
Poole will also be very, very happy to not have to face the Grizzlies again until next season. He got locked up a bit in this series, and Friday was no exception. He added to the chippiness, which was fun, but didn’t add much on the court.
Lots of missed buckets, a few poor shot decisions, and not too much control.
Grade: D +
Friday’s DNPs: Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Juan Toscano-Anderson
Friday’s inactives: Andre Iguodala, Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., James Wiseman