The Memphis Grizzlies are one missed layup by Ja Morant at the buzzer of Game 1 away from holding a commanding 2-0 lead over the Golden State Warriors. With the series deadlocked at 1-1, the Grizzlies should feel content with the way the first two games have played out, but there is one major problem Memphis must solve before it’s too late.
The Grizzlies were the first team in NBA history to finish first in the league in steals, blocks, and rebounding. Often lauded for their playmaking on the offensive end of the floor, the Grizzlies’ identity was in doing the dirty work.
The Grizzlies are the first team in NBA history to lead the league in— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 9, 2022
in a single season. pic.twitter.com/K0SKfdTSUw
Surprisingly, the team’s effort on the glass has left much to be desired as the series shifts to Golden State for Saturday’s Game 3. The undersized Warriors have made the Grizzlies earn it in the rebounding department thus far.
Warriors winning the rebound battle and Grizz winning the 3pt battle…— warriorsworld (@warriorsworld) May 4, 2022
Just like everyone predicted
Through two games, Memphis has conceded 30 offensive rebounds to the Warriors. Those extra possessions have led to 44 second chance points – 24 in Game 1 and 20 in Game 2. One of the most efficient offenses in the game, Golden State is good enough to beat teams with one shot per possession.
Giving Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole extra opportunities to score is not a winning recipe, as the Grizzlies found out in Game 1’s loss.
The Grizzlies gave up 16 offensive boards that led to 24 second-chance points for the vastly undersized Warriors.— Jack Gentry (@jackagentry) May 1, 2022
Golden State doesn’t need any extra opportunities to put teams away. The Grizzlies helped them out today.
What made Memphis such an efficient rebounding team in the regular season was the fact that everybody, guards included, was willing to stick their nose where it didn’t belong and battle for boards.
Well, that and the presence of Grizzlies center Steven Adams. Adams played sparingly in three games in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Minnesota Timberwolves before falling out of the rotation.
Adams, who averaged 10 rebounds per game in the regular season, was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols ahead of Game 6 against the Wolves. And after missing the first two games of this series, the Grizzlies are hopeful that he can make his return for Game 3.
The Warriors are a difficult team to rebound against due to their long three-point shots creating long rebounds. Golden State likes to use small lineups to get up and down the floor with players such as Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Otto Porter left to clean the glass.
Eight Andrew Wiggins rebounds in Game 1. That included a few huge hustle offensive rebounds in crunch time. It remains a key for the Warriors when they go small. He has to rebound and he has been lately. pic.twitter.com/PyBy8tjtAF— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 2, 2022
Inserting Adams back into the rotation does not solve these issues alone for the Grizzlies. Head coach Taylor Jenkins must prioritize finishing defensive stops with a rebound in order to win on the road in a hostile environment.
Featured image via Petre Thomas – USA TODAY Sports