SAN FRANCISCO — Memphis Grizzlies players were communicating at a high level. They were talking and running full sprints on defense to stay in front of the Golden State Warriors’ lethal shooters.
The high level of defense forced missed shots, but the rebounds often found the hands of Kevon Looney. When Looney kicked it out, the Warriors made the Grizzlies pay.
The Grizzlies’ biggest strength this season was a weakness Friday night as their season ended in a 110-96 loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Dillon Brooks finished with 30 points and Desmond Bane added 25, but it wasn’t enough to force a Game 7.
Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 30 points and Stephen Curry added 29. Ultimately, Looney’s 11 offensive rebounds were more than any Grizzlies player had total. That led to Golden State’s 21 second-chance points, and 13 of those came in the fourth quarter.
Here are three key takeaways from Game 6:
Warriors’ new lineup changes rebounding
Golden State played a bigger lineup for the first time in the series. Looney started at center, which moved Draymond Green to power forward. This impacted the Grizzlies because Green started the game on Jaren Jackson Jr., who looked unstoppable in Game 5. The Grizzlies called the first play of the game for Jackson, and Green was right with him, bulldozing through a couple of screens to get back in front of Jackson and contest the shot. Jackson shot 3-for-11 in the first half.
The big lineup meant that the Warriors’ offense was losing another weapon, but Looney’s presence shifted the rebounding advantage back in their direction. The Grizzlies outrebounded Golden State for the first time in Game 5 (55-37), but the Warriors regained the advantage on Friday and won the game due to the opportunities off offensive rebounds. The Warriors finished with a 70-44 rebounding advantage.
Game 6 Klay
Klay Thompson has a history of showing up big in Game 6s, to the point where he’s earned the nickname “Game 6 Klay.”
Thompson came out hot Friday by making his first four 3-pointers. He continued his hot play well into the third quarter, when the Grizzlies put Dillon Brooks on Thompson. Earlier in the series, Brooks said Stephen Curry was his top priority even if another Warriors player got hot.
Brooks’ impact was immediately felt as he prioritized taking away Thompson’s space and forced him into a turnover. Thompson made eight 3-pointers, and his 3 with 2:58 remaining gave the Warriors a 13-point lead and felt like the dagger.
Brooks makes an impact
With Green limiting Jackson’s scoring, the Grizzlies needed other scorers to step up. Brooks took on the challenge by surpassing his shot total from Game 5 in the first half of Game 6. Brooks carried the Grizzlies’ offense in stretches with his ability to create shots. Brooks got help from Desmond Bane.
Brooks got help from Bane, but Jackson was limited to 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting, and no other Grizzlies player scored in double figures
Along with Thompson’s hot shooting, Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins scored 10 points in the fourth after scoring just eight in the first three quarters. His baskets often came after the Grizzlies executed great defense for 20 seconds, only for him to knock down long 2s or 3s.
Follow Damichael Cole on Twitter @DamichaelC.