What we learned as Warriors demolish Grizzlies in Game 3 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Home sweet home. The Warriors returned to Chase Center, and on Saturday night they ran away with a 142-112 blowout win over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals.
The Grizzlies started the game on fire, with their first 18 points all coming from 3-pointers as the Warriors fell into an early hole. But the Warriors turned the tides and couldn’t miss themselves, shooting over 70 percent in the first half and 63.1 percent for the game, along with making 53.1 percent of their 3-pointers. They also again dominated on the glass and in the paint.
Through the first three games of this second-round series, the Warriors now have scored 38 more points in the paint than the Grizzlies and have grabbed 17 more rebounds.
Steph Curry led the way with 30 points, followed by 27 by Jordan Poole off the bench, 21 from Klay Thompson and 17 by Andrew Wiggins.
If it weren’t for their 14 first-half turnovers, this would have been over even earlier. The Warriors then turned the ball over just twice in the third quarter and led by 21 points going into the fourth quarter. When they play sound basketball, good luck to everybody else.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors taking a two-games-to-one lead vs. the Grizzlies in the semifinals.
Rook Gets The Start
With Gary Payton II sidelined for the remainder of the second round and beyond, Steve Kerr needed to find a replacement for his starting lineup. He didn’t go with Kevon Looney, Otto Porter Jr. or Poole. He opted to go with rookie Jonathan Kuminga instead.
At 19 years and 213 days old, Kuminga became the youngest player in NBA history to start a playoff game since tracking starters officially began in 1970-71, per ESPN Stats & Info. Kuminga in the first quarter looked both like a top draft pick with unlimited potential, and a teenager who can be a lost pup at times.
In one sequence, he blocked Morant, turned the ball over and then threw down a big dunk the next time the Warriors had the ball. That’s the Jonathan Kuminga Experience. Over seven minutes played in the first quarter, Kuminga scored four points while going 2-for-4 from the field, grabbed just one rebound and turned the ball over three times.
He didn’t see the court once in the second quarter, and didn’t return until the 5:09 mark in the third quarter. Kuminga totaled 17 minutes, scored 18 points, went 8-for-10 from the field and nailed two 3-pointers. He’s 19.
Ottomatic Porter Jr.
Otto Porter Jr. needs a trophy for his ridiculously high plus-minutes totals, even when his shot isn’t falling. That was the case Tuesday night in the Warriors’ Game 2 loss, finishing as a plus-17 despite going 1-for-4 from the field and missing his only 3-point attempt. Now imagine when his shot is falling.
The Warriors and Dub Nation didn’t have to imagine anymore. The former No. 2 overall draft pick caught fire in the first half, scoring 10 points in 14 minutes off the bench. He made his first four shots and stuffed the stat sheet. Porter only had two games after the All-Star break where he made multiple 3-pointers.
He did that in the first half alone in Game 3.
Kerr then started Porter in the second half for Kuminga, and that could be the look going forward with Payton shelved. Porter wound up playing 24 minutes and scored 13 points while going 5-for-7 from the field and 3-for-5 from downtown. This was the first time he made at least three 3-pointers in a game since Jan. 23.
Porter also was a plus-30 in plus-minus, which actually was outdone by Poole’s plus-33. Not bad for two players coming off the bench.
Klay Finds His Shot
After getting better and better through the first four games of the Warriors’ first-round series with the Denver Nuggets, Thompson hit a wall in Game 5 and went ice-cold the first two games in Memphis. He averaged 13.5 points in the first two games, shooting 28.9 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from deep. Those days looked long game with the Splash Brother back in The Bay.
Thompson was under better control and wasn’t forcing shots like he did at FedExForum. Even his circus shots were going down, too.
Over 35 minutes played, Thompson scored his 21 points by going 8-for-13 overall and 4-for-6 from long distance. For good measure, he added nine rebounds and four assists. This is the exact version of Klay the Warriors were looking for, and he returned for a huge Game 3 win.