Warriors look to flush, but learn from Game 5 blowout loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Arkansas men’s basketball head coach Eric Musselman, who was in attendance Wednesday night for Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals at FedExForum, has a handful of quirky antics to motivate his teams, including the use of a mini toilet to flush away bad games .
Warriors acting head coach Mike Brown must be jealous. If he could, he would have placed a mini toilet of his own on the podium following the Warriors’ 39-point throttling from the Memphis Grizzlies, extending the second round instead of putting an end to this series and enjoying some much-needed rest.
“It’s kind of like when you’re in the bathroom,” Brown said. “You just kind of push it down, and ‘shoooop’ — right down the toilet. It’s kind of how we’re gonna do this one. Obviously we’re gonna watch the film and try and learn and grow from it, but at the end of the day, our guys, they understood what happened out there.
“We’ll come out, we’ll play better Friday in front of our home crowd and see if we can get this win to close it.”
That was the theme from a handful of Warriors. They’re hoping this loss swirls down and goes away for good. Flush it and forget it.
That’s simpler and easier said than done, though. The loss did happen, and it was an embarrassing one. They were outhustled and outplayed from the opening tip to the final buzzer. They were down by 27 at halftime, and the deficit grew all the way to 55 at one point in the third quarter.
For a franchise that prides itself on championship DNA, you can’t just erase a game like this and move on. This isn’t a No. 2 pencil. It’s the Warriors’ second loss of the series, and second straight game where they came out flat with the Grizzlies’ best player on the sidelines.
“You definitely want to flush it, but you also have to learn from it,” Draymond Green said. “It’s not like flush it and you see this team again in two months. You see this team again in two days. You learn from it and then you flush it. You make the necessary adjustments, and then you flush it.
“What you flush is the end result. Move on from that. But you do have to learn from it and make the adjustments that we need to make.”
The necessary adjustments should be obvious. The Warriors can’t expect to keep turning the ball over at this rate and be crowned champions at the end of the season. They won the rebounding battle with a group effort through the first four games but were the JV team looking up at the varsity squad bullying them on the glass in this game.
Right from the start, the same issues as previous games plagued them with sloppy passes and head-scratching turnovers. The Warriors had been outscored in the first quarter in each of the first four games vs. the Grizzlies. But each time, they were winners of the next 12 minutes. That streak came to a screeching halt in front of a furious Memphis crowd.
The Grizzlies put up 17 more points than the Warriors in the second quarter, beating them 39-22 in that frame. By halftime, the Warriors had turned the ball over 14 times while only totaling 13 assists. Memphis took advantage and scored 25 points off Warriors turnovers as they strolled into the locker room as a team on top, not one afraid of a second-half flurry from the Warriors.
In the end, the Grizzlies scored 29 points off 22 Warriors turnovers. The Grizzlies turned the ball over 10 times, and that number stayed in single digits the majority of the game until sloppiness took over in a fourth quarter full of backups. Brown emphasized the Warriors “have to, have to settle down” on offense. Green’s message is for he and his teammates to slow down as a whole, from their decision making to their sneakers.
“I think we’re sped up,” Green said. “We got to go away from pressure. I think we’re going into pressure. Really all series we’ve been sped up. Just got to slow down.”
Green turned the ball over five times, followed by four from Jordan Poole, three from Juan Toscano-Anderson in 16 minutes off the bench and the Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson handed out two apiece.
Halfway through the second quarter, Poole hit a 3-pointer to cut the Warriors’ deficit to 11 points. The next three Warriors possessions were a Green turnover that led to a Tyus Jones 3-pointer, a Kevon Looney turnover than turned into a De’Anthonty Melton layup and another turnover from Green that resulted in another Grizzlies layup. Just like that, the Warriors were down by 18.
There’s a calmness missing from the Warriors’ offense, and as the head of the snake, they need that from Green when they return to Chase Center after he turned the ball over 20 times in the first five games.
They also need to figure out their rebounding issues, and if it’s more than just a 6-foot-11 monster of a man in Steven Adams being inserted into the starting lineup. Adams now has 28 rebounds in the last two games after hauling in 13 over 22 minutes in Game 5. The Warriors were outrebounded for the first time this series, and it wasn’t particularly close. The Grizzlies had 55 rebounds. Golden State finished with 37. The Warriors also watched the Grizzlies score 50 points in the paint compared to their 36.
What was most concerning, though, was the Warriors’ lack of effort when came to rebounding, especially on the offensive side. The Warriors came away with four offensive rebounds. Green led them with two. Jonathan Kuminga and Damion Lee each had one.
Adams had six by himself, and backup big man Brandon Clarke grabbed five. The Grizzlies as a team ended the night with 18 offensive rebounds, or 14 more than the Warriors.
“We’ve had an alertness and an awareness when it came to hitting bodies and boxing people out early,” Brown said. “We didn’t have that tonight. There were too many times throughout the course of the game where their bigs or even their wings kind of just ran by us.
“We’d turn and look and they’re jumping over us at the rim and coming away with the rebound. We have to do a better job of going and seeking a body and boxing them out early, and hope one our our teammates gets the rebound.”
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That starts with effort, something a team can’t lack against a young, athletic, hungry and desperate team on their home turf.
This is one game, and the Warriors will do their best not to dwell on it. They can take solace in knowing the Milwaukee Bucks lost by 39 points just last year in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals before going on to win it all. One historical fact also can’t be something to lean on.
Flush it, don’t let it pile up. But not until whatever the hell that was addressed, taken head-on and the Warriors’ plethora of mistakes are kept in the past so they can put on a show Friday night back at home, the moment they step on the court.