The Golden State Warriors forward Kent Bazemore offers guard Stephen Curry a drink to cool off from his 46 point night against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Chase Center in San Francisco on Sun May 16, 2021 (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors (39-33) played the final game of the regular season Sunday afternoon at the Chase Center in San Francisco against the Memphis Grizzlies (38-34). The teams were tied with identical season records 38-33. The winner of the game would be the eighth team in the Western Conference.
The loser would be the ninth. In the new NBA play-in format, the eighth team plays the number seven. The winner of that game becomes the number seven seed and will face the second-best team in the conference in the first round of the playoffs.
The loser will face the winner of the game between number nine and number ten. The loser of that game is done for the season. The winner meets the loser of number eight or number seven. The winner then becomes the eighth seed and faces the team with the best record. The whole play-in formula sounds confusing, but after Sunday’s game, things are a bit clearer. The Warriors helped explain what will happen as they beat the Grizzlies 113-101.
The Warriors, led by Stephen Curry, had to find a way to slow down the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter. The Warriors ended the third quarter leading by 17, 86-69. The Grizzlies had bottled up Curry in the first half. They held him to 13 points, and they trailed at the end of the first half, 55-49. Curry came to life in the third quarter when he put 17 points on the board. The Warriors seemed to be on their way to an easy victory.
However, the Warriors have to be wary of a fourth-quarter letdown. The Grizzlies’ young star, Dillon Brooks, went on a personal 8-0 run to make it 86-77 game. Curry made a three and a deuce to put the W up 91-79. The Grizzlies put their offense into overdrive as they continued to put points on the board while stopping the Warriors on defense.
They tied the game at 91-91, finishing a 22-5 run. The question at this point was this: can the Warriors regroup and find a way to win? The question was answered when Dillon Brooks fouled Draymond Green. Brooks, who covered Curry like a blanket, was gone.
Green made the two free throws to make it 93-91. Memphis responded by going ahead 97-95. The Warriors’ Jordan Poole started a 14-0 run with a three. Andrew Wiggins scored to give the Warriors the lead 100-97. Curry showed the Grizzlies why he is the best shooter in the game. Curry made three consecutive threes to give Golden State a 12-point lead 109-97. The Grizzlies were toast. They could not catch Golden State. The Warriors win 113-101.
Game Notes and Stats: The Warriors will face either the Portland Trailblazers or the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night. A Laker loss and a Portland win will send the Warriors to Portland. If the Lakers win, the Warriors will face the Lakers at the Staples Center. If the Warriors win the play-in game, they will be the seventh seed. If they lose, they will host the winner of the game between Memphis and San Antonio for the eighth seed.
Curry joined Michael Jordan as the only two players 33 years or older to win the NBA scoring title. Curry finished the season with an average of 31.8 points per game. Curry finished the night with 46 points. It was the 11th game this season with 40 or more points. It was the 38th game with 30 or more points.
Curry had help from Green, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Juan Toscano-Anderson. Green’s line was 14 points, nine boards, and nine assists. He almost had a triple-double. Wiggins had a double-double- with 21 points and ten rebounds. Wiggins continued to be consistent on both ends of the court.
Poole had 15. The Warriors shot almost 50% from the floor. They connected on 15 threes. Curry knocked down nine of the 15 threes. Quite a performance for the two-time NBA MVP. The Warriors outrebounded the taller Grizzlies 52-48. The Warriors recorded 26 assists on 41 made field goals. The only ugly stat was the 19 turnovers.
The Grizzlies’ Jonas Valenciunas paced his club with 29 points and 16 rebounds. Dillon Brooks had 18, Ja Morant 16, Kyle Anderson 10, and Jaren Jackson 14. The Grizzlies shot 43% from the floor, and they made six threes in 25 attempts.
The Warriors won their sixth game in a row to finish the season 39-33. The Grizzlies are 38-34. The Warriors’ next game is Wednesday night, either in Portland or Los Angeles.