There’s an old basketball saying that shooting kills a multitude of sins. In the early going of Game 3 vs. the Grizzlies on Saturday, the Golden State Warriors‘ sin was a familiar one: Turnovers. They committed eight of them in the first quarter that saw them fall into a 13-point hole. They ended the quarter down just two because they shot over 66 percent from the field.
The turnovers eventually stopped (they committed just three in the second half), but the shooting didn’t, and the Warriors ran away from the Grizzlies for a 142-112 victory to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Golden State finished the game shooting 63 percent, including 53 percent from 3. They made 19 of their 21 free throws. It added up to a 76.1 true-shooting percentage, the second-highest mark ever recorded for a single playoff game, trailing only the 77.8 TS% the Clippers put up against the Mavericks in 2020.
It wasn’t a barrage from 3. Yeah, the Warriors made 17 of their 32 triples, but Memphis, which came out of the gates scorching, sunk 16 of its own. Using the threat of the 3 and their typically relentless movement, the Warriors attacked the paint, where they outscored Memphis 62-44.
Thanks to committing just the three aforementioned turnovers in the second half, the Warriors got up 13 more shots than Memphis for the game. When you’re putting up 63-53-90 shooting splits as a team and you’re taking more shots than your opponent, you’re going to win. It’s as simple as that. Nobody would’ve beaten the Warriors on Saturday night.
The best news: Klay Thompson, who made just 29 percent of his shots through the first two games of the series, found his stroke, finishing with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 3-for-5 from 3. Jordan Poole was again lethal, hitting 11 of his 17 shots and scoring 27 points while posting a team-high plus-33 over his 31 minutes. Poole made a concerted effort to attack Ja Morant early and often.
Morant appeared to suffer a knee injury toward the end of the game. Hopefully, he’ll be good to go for Game 4. If he is, the Warriors have to continue to attack him on the defensive end, because they once again had no chance of stopping him on the offensive end in Game 3.
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Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 30 points. He only made two of his eight 3-pointers, but he was brilliant getting downhill and to the rim, as he has been all postseason. Imagine, the Warriors put up the second-highest true-shooting percentage in playoff history and Curry only shoots 25 percent from deep.
That’s the Poole factor. Thompson and Curry are far more erratic as shooters these days, but Poole gives them that margin for error. There won’t be many games in which all three aren’t shooting well, and it only takes one to keep the Warriors competitive. If two of them have it going, as Thompson and Poole did on Saturday, the Warriors can beat anyone. If all three of them have it going at the same time, the Warriors are going to kill teams.
That’s what happened Saturday night. The Warriors were red hot and careful with the ball in the second half, after which the Grizzlies never had a chance.