NBA Playoffs – Golden State Warriors & Stephen Curry Look Like Champions & MVP; Atlanta Hawks Need to Play Their Starters More

Stephen Curry

The Golden State Warriors are advancing on the road towards a championship, beating the Memphis Grizzlies 101-86 in game of their series while Stephen Curry can start celebrating winning the MVP. On the Eastern side of the playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks didn’t play their best lineup nearly enough, leading to a 104-98 loss at home to the Washington Wizards.

The Grizzlies had no answer to the 3-point shooting of the Warriors or their defense, especially with Mike Conley still injured. Nick Calathes didn’t score a single point and Beno Udrih didn’t do much better, finishing with 7. Most importantly, the Grizzlies couldn’t get any perimeter shooting rhythm going on, so while the Warriors hit 13 three-pointers in the game on 46.4%, the Grizzlies were limited to just 3-of-12, allowing too many easy points and working too hard for each one of theirs.

Curry led the Warriors with 22 points and 7 assists. Not an exceptional performance, but even though he is the MVP, there’s a lot going on around him. Klay Thompson scored 18 points, Draymond Green finished with 16 and the bench, led by Marreese Speights with 10 points, scored a postseason high 30 in the game, compared to 21 from the Grizzlies. Jeff Green and Vince Carter, who might be the most important factors for the Grizzlies in this series, finishing with just 11 points.

The Grizzlies might be dominant in the paint, but paint points are harder to come by, so while the Grizzlies have to figure out each time what can go through an excellent defensive unit, the Warriors just run up the floor, move the ball quickly and find open shooters. Most of their 3-pointers, even their missed shots, were wide open jumpers. Without Conley playing, the Grizzlies are going to find it difficult in slowing down that ball movement and spacing opportunities.

Wizards vs Hawks

Wizards beat Warriors

The Wizards carry on with their incredible run of road victories, this time not letting an excellent first half from the Hawks get to them. The Wizards dominated the second half despite Bradley Beal missing a good chunk in the end after a bad landing, coming up with some excellent defense and some big shots from Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat to take a 1-0 lead in another series without home court advantage.

Jeff Teague rolled his ankle early on but managed to play through the pain, not looking all that good while doing it, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-14 from the field. It was once again DeMarre Carroll that led the Hawks with 24 points, followed by Al Horford with 17 and Paul Millsap with 15. However, there weren’t enough minutes with the entire starting lineup on the floor, allowing the Wizards to take advantage of those moments and generate their runs against a less than smooth offense.

Per ESPNThe Hawks’ starters finished with an offensive efficiency rating of 111.6 points per 100 possessions and held the Wizards to 95.4 points per 100 possessions. In a game with a possession count in the 90s, as most NBA playoff games have, that’s a blowout.

The Hawks played their starters together for just 18 minutes and 36 possessions. While during the regular season the average is even lower (16 minutes a night), there were plenty of blowouts in which the starters rested. For a unit that was outscoring their opponents by 16.4 points per 100 possessions during the regular season, there needs to be more floor time in games that are close.

The injured Beal led the Wizards with 28 points. John Wall finished with 18 and 13 dimes. Nene didn’t score, but Paul Pierce raised his game, scoring 19, while Drew Gooden and Otto Porter combined to add 22 off the bench. The Wizards dominated the most important number: Shooting better, hitting 4 percentage points better from the field and doing the same from beyond the arc and the free throw line.

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