This was a game in the Play-In Tournament but the level of competition was reminiscent of two teams slugging it out in Game 7 of a playoff series.
In a tough, hard-fought, and physical game, the young Grizzlies pulled this game out in overtime. They overcame the Warriors 117-112 despite a game-high 39 points from the league's leading scorer Stephen Curry.
Memphis, the first and only road team in NBA history to win in the Play-In Tournament, clinch the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference playoff bracket.
Looking back at the game, here are the biggest takeaways:
Ja Morant steps up
The reigning Rookie of the Year led from the front. He finished with a team-high 35 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter and overtime, plus two clutch floaters in the final minute.
JA MORANT COLD-BLOODED 🥶 pic.twitter.com/VvkA86x3Zt- ESPN (@espn) May 22, 2021
His points tally and efficiency from the field of 48.3 percent is a jump from his averages from the final five games of the regular season of 15.2 points on 40.3 percent shooting from the field.
Ja Morant vs Warriors in 4th Quarter/OT:- Grizzlies Analytics (@GrizzAnalytics) May 22, 2021
Scored or assisted on 21 of team's 39 points
Scored on 5 different defenders (2-2 vs Steph Curry)
5/9 on contested FG attempts
His five 3-pointers in this game are the most he's knocked down in his career and his efficiency from long range of 50 percent in this game is an impressive huge uptick from his season average of 30.3 percent.
Dillon Brooks makes Curry work
Curry finished with the game-high points tally but he needed 28 shot attempts to reach that total.
His 46.4 percent shooting from the field in this game is a touch off his season average of 48.2 percent and what he shot a couple of days earlier in his 37-point performance (12-23 FGs; 6-9 3Ps) against the Los Angeles Lakers.
For that, give credit to Dillon Brooks, who held the DeMar DeRozan, the Spurs' leading scorer for the season with 21.6 points per game, to just a 5-of-21 shooting performance a couple of days earlier.
When both teams played each other just under a week back in their regular-season finale, Curry helped the Warriors run away with late by scoring 13 of their last 22 points in the final six minutes after Brooks was fouled out of the game.
Back to this game, despite the 39, Brooks never let Curry go off on any momentum-changing run other than the 10 straight he scored as part of the Warriors' 21-8 run to end the first quarter.
HOW, STEPH?? 🤯@warriors 81@memgrizz 85- NBA (@NBA) May 22, 2021
4Q in #StateFarmPlayIn.. winner becomes the West #8 seed in the #NBAPlayoffs! pic.twitter.com/JS5zHelxtT
Foul trouble limits Jonas Valanciunas
The Lithuanian center has been a huge reason for the Grizzlies' success this season with career-high averages of 17.1 points and 12.5 rebounds. His 49 double-doubles were tied for third-most this season with only Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic having more.
A couple of days earlier, in the Grizzlies 9-10 must-win game against the Spurs, he dominated the contest with a monster double-double.
Jonas Valanciunas puts together a monster performance of 23 PTS, 23 REB to push the @memgrizz past SAS! #StateFarmPlayIn- NBA (@NBA) May 20, 2021
Grizzlies will face the Warriors Friday at 9pm/et on ESPN to decide the West #8 seed. pic.twitter.com/xN0XQqsnIC
However, in this one early foul trouble limited him to 26 minutes, eventually finishing the game with nine points, 12 rebounds and three assists.
Turnovers cost Warriors playoff berth
The Warriors, who ranked 26th in the league for turnovers with an average of 15.0 per game, committed 21 in this one. Those 21, 13 of which were committed by Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, resulted in 22 points for the Grizzlies.
This comes a couple of days after Golden State turned the ball over 20 times which turned into 29 points for the Lakers. In that contest, Curry and Draymond were responsible for 12 of the 20.
The other guys
For Golden State, more often than not, they need at least a couple of guys to step up and contribute even in games when Curry is putting on a show.
In this one, reliable Draymond Green finished with a triple-double of 11 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists while Andre Wiggins finished with an all-round stat-line of 22 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Off the bench, Jordan Poole came up big to finish with 19 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime including a couple of big 3-pointers late.
Jordan Poole's over/under for 3's tonight was 2.5...- NBABet (@nbabet) May 22, 2021
His 3rd three-pointer came just in the nick of time pic.twitter.com/cXHlmxvZ92
While Morant stole the show, multiple Grizzlies pitched with key contributions.
Brooks locked-in on defence while Kyle Anderson did a little bit of everything as he finished with nine points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks.
With Valanciunas limited with foul trouble, Xavier Tillman stepped up to finish with 11 points, seven rebounds and three steals in just 23 minutes including a huge 3-pointer in overtime. Grayson Allen was another guy, scoring all of his 12 points from beyond the arc including a couple of big ones in the extra session.
The reward for the Grizzlies impressive performances in the Play-In Tournament is a first-round matchup against the Utah Jazz, the team that finished the season with the best record in the league.
Meanwhile, for the Warriors, this loss wraps up their season. It's the first time they have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 2012.
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