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Morant, Grizzlies Defeat Warriors to Claim Eighth Seed

Morant, Grizzlies Beat Warriors to advance
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With Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry often in foul trouble and Klay Thompson watching anxiously from the bench, the Golden State Warriors had no answer for Ja Morant throughout a crushing overtime loss on Friday. The Memphis Grizzlies used an incredible effort from the 2020 Rookie of the Year to earn their second-straight play-in victory, overtaking the dynastic Warriors 117-112 in the final game of the NBA’s “regular” season. 

With 8:51 left in the fourth quarter, Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas kicked the ball out to a wide open Morant. As the career 31 percent three-point shooter set behind the arc, Golden State’s Draymond Green was happy to let him shoot. Unfortunately for the Warriors he would hit that three, along with four others on the night.

Given the confidence Golden State had coming into the game, the evening did not begin the way they wanted. Memphis jumped out to an 18-6 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Curry was a complete non-factor. By the time the first half ended, the visitors had a 13-point lead and the Warriors were on their heels. 

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Even with the slow start, Curry had plenty of firepower to throw at the Grizzlies. He finished the night with 39 points, but Memphis had an answer for every offensive explosion that Curry offered up. After an incredible flailing three-point shot from Curry with nine minutes remaining, Morant hit the wide-open three that Green dared him to shoot. 

Mountains from Molehills

Golden State’s undoing in this game was turnovers. Just like in their matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, Green and Curry gave the ball up early and often. Since the Warriors have fewer built-in “safety nets”, key mistakes are killer. 

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“There were some pivotal turnovers that bit us a little bit, but I think the intentions were right and we were trying to make the right play, and sometimes it doesn’t go your way,” said Curry. “I loved our aggressiveness and our intentions, in the end it just didn’t go our way.”

With 13 turnovers between the pair of Curry and Green, Morant was able to get out on the fast break. The second-year point guard shone in the national spotlight and powered the Grizzlies’ offense. With 35 points and four steals, he proved he could be the catalyst for a playoff team. Even after his incredible performance, Morant is not satisfied. 

“I know it’s a big accomplishment for all of us, but me and Dillon know the job’s not finished,” Morant said. “We’re not trying to be done making it to the playoffs. We have to lock back in to playing Utah who has the best record in the league.”

Looking Ahead:

Ultimately, The Warriors missed the playoffs for the first time since making five straight NBA Finals in 2015-2019. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, ended a three-year playoff drought. 

Memphis is set up for a first round matchup against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are facing a much less heralded opponent in Memphis than the status Golden State brings to a playoff series. Either way, Morant, Dillon Brooks, and the core of this young and exciting team have an uphill battle to face. 


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Follow MJ Hurley on Twitter @Mjhurleysports

Main Image Credit: via La Jordana

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Check us out on our socials:   
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk 
Instagram: @primetimesportstalk

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