The Golden State Warriors easily defeated the Memphis Grizzlies by a 101-86 score in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals. Following about a week off after the team swept the New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State looked sharp in the first quarter. Draymond Green‘s three-point shooting helped set the tempo for the game. He finished with 16 points on 5-11 shooting. Stephen Curry dropped 22 with an 8-18 display from the field, and Klay Thompson totaled 18 points and six assists.
It would be unfair to analyze Game 1 without acknowledging the absence of Mike Conley. He’s arguably the most important player on Memphis, and is definitely the most gifted driver on the roster. His presence was missed to a painful degree on many of the Grizzlies’ aimless, 15-turnover possessions. Conley was held out of Game 1 because of a facial injury he suffered in the Portland Trail Blazers series. He was interviewed by Doris Burke as the game transpired, offering decently encouraging words about his health. He hopes to return for Game 2.
For the healthy Memphis players, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph were the most effective, combining for 41 points and 18 rebounds as a pair. Each big man did work against Green, Andrew Bogut, and Marreese Speights in the paint. Despite their work inside, the Grizzlies only shot 3-12 from three-point distance. Courtney Lee only managed nine points, and Nick Calathes looked lost on the floor replacing Conley. He went scoreless in about 20 minutes of action.
The Warriors outmatched Memphis most of this contest, capitalizing on both Conley’s absence and lighting it up from the field. Golden State went 13-28 from deep, much to the raucous crowd’s delight. There was also decent bench production with 10 points from Speights, eight from Andre Iguodala, and six from Leandro Barbosa. All the Warriors need from its bench is moderate production given the talent of the starters. Shaun Livingston and company merely provide a reasonable backup option for when the Splash Brothers require rest.
Moving to Game 2, the obvious key is Conley’s health. Memphis likely has no chance of winning a single game without its point guard. If he’s back for Tuesday, the odds of stealing a road game increase drastically, and the Grizzlies would feel fantastic heading home with a split. Golden State’s home crowd is second to none regarding noise, but don’t sleep on the following in Memphis. Game 2 will either represent a Warriors’ stranglehold on the series or a Memphis turning of the tables. It will tip in Oakland on Tuesday, 5/5 at 10:30 pm ET.