NBA: Grizzlies plan to send message to struggling Warriors
The Memphis Grizzlies will have momentum and momentum when they make their Christmas Day debut against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night in San Francisco.
With an overwhelming 125-100 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday, the Grizzlies turned their attention to the team that eliminated them in an intense six-game playoff series last May.
Memphis lost star Ja Morant to a knee injury in a Game 3 loss to Golden State. He sat out the rest of the series, and the Grizzlies lost four games to two.
The Warriors also suffered a serious injury in Game 2 of the series when Gary Payton II broke his elbow for a rough foul on Dillon Brooks, who received a one-game suspension. Payton also missed out on the rest of the series.
Placed third in the Western post-season, Golden State earned promotion to the second-seeded Grizzlies by winning Game 1 on the road and then going through three games at home. It needed a late run of five 3-pointers from Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins to recover from a fourth-round deficit in a struggling Game 6.
Grizzlies did not remove well. Not only have some players and coach Taylor Jenkins loudly complained about their belief that Warriors’ Jordan Poole caused Morant’s injury, but Morant himself insists Memphis would have come forward if it weren’t for negligence.
Morant recently added fuel to the fire when asked about a possible path to the championship this season. He said it went through Boston, and when given the opportunity to invite Golden State, the defending champion, into the conversation, he replied, “No, I’m fine in the West.”
The Grizzlies looked better as they beat the defending Western regular-season champions, the Suns, to lead the Golden State rematch.
Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke each had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Desmond Bane returning from a toe injury scored 17 and Morant scored a brace (12 points, 11 assists) before complaining the Grizzlies would get no respect even after the 25 point race.
“There will always be something,” Morant insisted. “Even though we won this game, they obviously don’t have enough power, so that will be the problem now. If we had to lose, they would be impatient to say, ‘Yes, because Ja said this they lost.’ Every time.”
With their 10th consecutive game on Christmas Day scheduled, the Warriors returned home from a 1-5 loss that ended 38 and 30 points against New York and Brooklyn, respectively.
Golden State played the last four games of the trip without Curry, who remains sidelined with a mild left shoulder dislocation and will be out for at least another two weeks. They also lack Wiggins (stress addict) on both the trip and main reserve Donte DiVincenzo (illness) in their last two defeats, but both have trained during the Warriors’ three-day break and are expected will face the Grizzlies.
The Warriors have beaten their last two opponents in the NBA Finals — Boston at home and Toronto away — to claim the only win in their last nine games, and Draymond Green believes it’s time for him. and teammates started to get frustrated with the score 15-18 starting to take it more seriously.
“You start experiencing these things and then you start to believe them,” says Green. “Once you start believing them, it becomes who you are. The only way to break them is to be mentally tough.”
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