Back in July, in that hotel in the Hamptons, with all the excitement and joy, none of them probably imagined this moment. Sure, they knew they'd lose some, you always lose games in the NBA. And sure, there would be tough losses and some tough times. But you don't actually think about what it would feel like to blow a 24-point second-half lead at home to yet another NBA power.
After three quarters, Golden State led the Memphis Grizzlies 98-79.
1. It was an all-time collapse, even for the Warriors. Obviously an incredible collapse by Golden State, and that's saying something for a team that blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Inpredictable put the odds of the Warriors winning at 99.2 percent with 6:47 to go in the game.
Whenever this kind of collapse happens, it's important to remember A) how unlikely they are and B) how many things have to go wrong at once. Mike Conley making clutch shot after clutch shot. Marc Gasol doing his thing. Tony Allen beating every Warrior for offensive rebounds, including three once the game hit the 5:00 mark through overtime.
The Warriors didn't value possessions (as we talked about here on Friday), fell into bad habits, turned the ball over, missed shots, fought with one another, and generally just went to complete pieces. It was an incredible effort by Memphis, which never surrendered, and just a pathetic dissolve by the Warriors in another clutch moment.
2. The Warriors' clutch performance was horrible. That seems obvious, but it was who failed that seems most notable. Stephen Curry was brilliant all night long, absolutely back to his old 30-foot incredible-shot-splashing ways. But in what the NBA has described as "clutch time," which is the final five minutes or overtime in a game inside of five points, Durant was 0-for-5 from the field and 1-for-4 from the line for one point and one turnover. Curry was 2-for-7 for four points. They took bad shots, they missed those bad shots, and it cost them the game.
The Warriors had seven turnovers for eight Grizzlies points in the fourth quarter and overtime alone.
3. Tony Allen deserves more credit. Allen finished with five points in the final five minutes of regulation and overtime (as many as Curry and Durant combined), along with six rebounds and a steal. And he played lock-down defense the way you expect. Allen missed a late layup, but then made a driving one to seal the game in overtime. Allen has been great this season, not only defensively, but offensively. The Grizzlies have had a spate of injuries, and Allen has contributed with 10 points per game, and shot 48 percent from the field.
Allen is a plus-player no matter how much the league has become 3-point manic, and he makes Memphis a lot more dangerous, especially in games like this.
4. Zach Randolph ate and ate and ate. Randolph had 12 points, seven rebounds, and three assists for a plus-26 in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Warriors tried Zaza Pachulia. Nope, ZBo bullied him and stepped back on him. The Warriors tried Kevin Durant in the small ball lineup, and Randolph ate him alive. The Warriors tried Draymond Green and ZBo buried the jumper over him.
If you're able to neutralize Draymond Green's impact at smallball center, the Warriors' identity starts to rattle. Randolph helped do that, and ZBo absolutely ate them up.
5. The bench struggle was real for Golden State. Golden State was frozen in the late third and early fourth quarter. Their bench went cold and they couldn't hold off the Memphis run. The Grizzlies just kept chipping away over and over, and the Warriors couldn't stem the tide. They miss Leandro Barbosa, to a degree. HT: Warriors All-82.
6. Whither the Death Star? The Warriors' "Death Star" lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green was a minus-4 in the fourth quarter Friday, and now has a negative net rating in the fourth quarter this season, minus-1.5. This lineup was always monstrous last season with Harrison Barnes, with a net-69 per 100 possessions in the fourth. Now it's being outscored by their opponents in the 4th.
7. These aren't your Momma's Grizzlies. Yes, ZBo was cooking, but it's plays like these that you didn't see from Memphis in the past. Both David Fizdale's early-clock offense and the addition of players like Troy Daniels give them a different dimension and that enabled this comeback. If Daniels doesn't hit 4-of-7 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime.
8. The Old (Real?) Steph Curry returned. Curry was electric for three quarters. Dispy-doo layups, step-back four-point plays, the whole Steph Curry show was on display as Curry finished with 40 points on 27 shots and six assists. Curry had 36 through three quarters, and had every Grizzies player's number. Mike Conley couldn't track him in transition at all. Of course, in the fourth quarter he was bottled up, but it's notable that after about two weeks of conversation wondering where the old Steph Curry went, he showed up.
Through three quarters, Durant had 12 shots and 22 points.
9. Dissent started to show. Everything's been happy Instagram photos and snarky shots at the media so far in Golden State, but when Durant went to isolate late in the game, waving off Curry, watch the reactions of both Curry and Draymond Green.
That led to this:
Draymond ain't happy with KD pic.twitter.com/bc97cDJaZg— Full Court Prez (@fullcourtprez) January 7, 2017
After the game, Durant said Green's comments were about their need to run pick and roll in that situation. In five-point games under five minutes this season, Durant is now 0-for-11 on isolation possessions this season, via Synergy Sports.
This is a real sign of dissent. The Warriors have grumbled about their late-game execution this season but it hasn't been enough to really bite them until now. Durant calling his own number and waving off a screen is just not how the Warriors play ball. In the reaction video, you can see Green saying "That's not our offense."
It should be noted, Green did not complain after this possession.
After the game, the Warriors all said that they were "happy" this happened because it will force them to work on the things they need to solve. But it's not really that simple. Durant, for years, was thought to have been a victim of Oklahoma City's coaching, playcalling, and Russell Westbrook's decision-making. But part of the reason the ball stuck and turned into hero ball in his time there was because of his own decision making.
The Warriors will likely use this as a learning experience, and will likely be better for it. But just when you thought the team had gotten past the bump in the road that their collapse in Cleveland on Christmas represented, they show that they may have super team talent, but as a collective, are far from super.