The Memphis Grizzlies put together a fantastic regular season, winning 56 games, the second-most in the National Basketball Association.
In the first round of the playoffs, they started to show the stuff of winners, overcoming double-digit deficits in multiple games to knock off the young and talented Minnesota Timberwolves.
Now, Ja Morant and company are facing off against the Golden State Warriors and a core that has won three NBA championships in recent years.
Memphis was picked to lose the series by 20 out of 20 experts at ESPN, yet it battled the Warriors down to the wire in Game 1 on Sunday.
The Grizzlies lost by one point only when Morant lost the ball before he could attempt what would’ve been the game-winning shot.
Steph Curry LOCKED UP Ja Morant in the biggest possession of the game 💪pic.twitter.com/0VFCMCJXxG
— Guru (@DrGuru_) May 1, 2022
They have what it takes to make this a seven-game matchup.
The Grizzlies Came Out Strong Versus Golden State
Yes, the Warriors have a core that knows how to win, a strong defense and a fast-paced, well-balanced offense.
But the Grizzlies have plenty of those qualities as well, and they are learning how to win.
In Game 1, they got off to a very good start, taking a 32-24 lead at the end of the first quarter and leading by as many as 13 points in the second quarter.
A great chance of winning is exactly what Memphis had, but once it took a lead, it showed its youth and inexperience.
Memphis Blew A Golden Opportunity
Late in the second quarter, Draymond Green, the Swiss Army knife who is the Warriors’ heart and soul, got ejected for what appeared to some to be merely a flagrant 1 foul, which wouldn’t have warranted an ejection.
Leading 61-55 at halftime, the Grizzlies couldn’t take advantage of all the things that were going their way.
Morant had a monster outing with 33 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists, while Jaren Jackson Jr. added 33 points on 10-of-18 shooting and 6-of-9 from 3-point land.
Jaren Jackson Jr. is absolutely cooking right now pic.twitter.com/ySHgSoNcst
— The Dylan & Dylan Show (@DylanDylanShow) May 1, 2022
But lost in the defeat is how Memphis has shown growth in handling games that are competitive in the fourth quarter.
According to ESPN.com, the Grizzlies have been showing the heart of a champion in crunch time.
“The Grizzlies finished their first-round series against Minnesota by coming back from double-digit deficits in their final three wins — the first team in NBA history to do that more than once in a postseason, let alone a series. They came in leading the NBA in the fourth with an average of 33 points and outscoring opponents by 10.3 points a game.”
If Memphis learns quickly from what it didn’t do right in the second half of Game 1, it will do very well for the rest of the series, even if it doesn’t emerge victorious.
Memphis Is Not Going Anywhere
Given how they dealt with sizable deficits versus Minnesota in the first round and their prowess in the fourth quarters of games, the Grizzlies could make Golden State work very hard to knock them out of the playoffs.
Another thing that should be remembered is that the Grizzlies finished fourth in defensive rating in the regular season, and with young players such as Jackson, Desmond Bane, and Kyle Anderson, they have the length to bother the Warriors at both ends.NEXT: Ja Morant Reminds Fans Of His Shocking Recruiting Profile