Golden State Warriors stayed true to their favourites tag for the NBA title, as they demolished Memphis Grizzlies in game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. Warriors outplayed the Grizzlies in all departments of the game, with the score reading 78-98.
Hence, when these two teams meet for game 6 of the series at FedExForum, Memphis, the Warriors will be eager to finish off the series and seal a Western Conference finals berth, while the Grizzlies will give it their all to take the series to a decider.
During game 5, Grizzlies put up a below par performance with Marc Gasol being the highest scorer with 18 points. They only drilled four three points during the game.
Compare this record with the Warriors, who made 11 three pointers and Stephen Curry alone hit six of them. Curry finished the game with 18 points. Klay Thompson was equally impressive with 21 points.
It would not be wrong to state that the Grizzlies suffered such fate as they missed Tony Allen, who had made life difficult for Curry and Allen to get easy shots to the basket in the previous matches. Grizzlies missed his services due to the player's hamstring injury.
Had Allen played game 5, the story would have been different for Warriors. At least, Thompson and Curry might have found it tough against Allen with his defensive skills on show.
Grizzlies' coach Dave Joerger acknowledged that the team did miss out on their star defender Allen.
"A guy like (Tony) goes and gets a loose ball, dives on the floor, gets a deflection, gets a steal, gets a putback," AP quoted Dave Joerger as saying.
"Those kind of things really kind of help your team go, yeah, you know what? We can get this done. So we really missed that from Tony, let alone what he does as a defender, which I could go on and on for that."
But, one also needs to give some credit to the way Warriors have shone in their last two games, especially their defence, which has stood firm. Grizzlies only scored 84 in game 4 as well.
If the Warriors let their guard down in game 6, the Grizzlies are sure to take full advantage of it. They have players such as Mike Conley, Jeff Green and Gasol, who can play spoilsport for the Warriors.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr wants to finish the series soon. "You don't want to mess around," Kerr said. "You never know what can happen (in a Game 7). So our intent is to go down there and play the kind of defense we've played the last two games."
Where to Watch Live
The NBA Playoffs semi-finals game 6 between Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors is scheduled for 7:30pm ET (7am IST, 1:30am BST) start.
Viewers in the US can watch the game live on ESPN.
Viewers in India can watch it live on Sony Six.
NBA fans can also watch the Playoffs live on NBA.com