So Steph Curry raised the MVP trophy up in front of one of the best home crowds in the NBA on Tuesday night — a crowd that is not used to leaving the arena after a loss. Home has been a special place for the Warriors this season; and having home court advantage throughout the playoffs is a big reason why they are title favorites.
Which made what the Grizzlies did in their 97-90 Game 2 victory so special. Defeating Golden State in their own building (or in any arena) has been no easy task this season.
Warriors lose at home for 1st time since January 27 vs Bulls— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 6, 2015
Grizzlies: 3rd team to win at Golden State this season (Bulls and Spurs);— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 6, 2015
What’s the key to stopping them? Bothering the Splash Brothers — much easier said than done. But on this night, the Memphis backcourt of Mike Conley (who returned after missing three games from facial fracture surgery) and defensive specialist Tony Allen was better than Golden State’s.
A masked Conley didn’t skip a beat, netting 22 points in his return, on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Allen also contributed nine points, but it was all about their defensive effort.
Warriors are 0-of-7 when Tony Allen is the primary defender, including 0-5 by Klay Thompson— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 6, 2015
This tweet was sent out while the game was still going on, but you get the idea. Curry and Thompson have been able to score at will all season, but the Grizzlies’ guards have the best chance of containing them.
Curry managed 19 points on 7-for-19 shooting (2-for-11 from downtown), and Thompson had just 13, shooting a similar 6-for-15 (1-for-6 on 3-pointers). Here’s a look at what “The Grindfather,” as they call Allen, brings to the table (besides letting you know that he’s All-Defensive First Team).
In every game that Allen is able to provide that kind of defensive energy, his team is going to have a chance. The problem is, the effort will be there in each game, but the results likely won’t be as bad as Game 2 was for Curry and Thompson. Maybe Allen can limit one of them in another game, but Game 2 will probably be the only time that both of them have off-nights together.
We know Memphis has the edge when it comes to the bigs, but their guards are going to be the key to the series. It’s a lot to ask of Conley and Allen to continue to outplay Curry and Thompson — and I doubt they’ll be able to again — but it’s the only chance the Grizzlies have.
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