Yes ha morant and the grizzlies ever lifted the Larry O’Brien Trophy during the 2020s, it’ll be worth remembering what happened Tuesday night in Memphis.
The Grizzlies are a relatively long shot to win the 2022 title, and even remain the underdogs in their series against Golden State despite Tuesday’s 106-101 victory. But regardless of how the rest of the postseason plays out for Morant and company, his 47-point outburst in Game 2 marks a critical checkpoint in his career. Morant was the best player on the floor when Memphis evened the series Tuesday night. The three-time champions aren’t guaranteed a trip to the conference finals just yet.
The full range of Morant’s talents was on display Tuesday as Memphis cruised to a series-tying victory. The Grizzlies took a five-point halftime lead as Morant had 21 points and five assists, punctuating the first half with a trademark transition dunk as he levitated to the rim. Morant’s effort in midcourt was even more impressive.
The Warriors they seem insistent on having Morant beat them like a jump shooter, sinking into the lane at every opportunity. The move is prudent protection against perhaps the best athlete in the league, a strategy reminiscent of Golden State’s coverage against Russell Westbrook half a decade ago. It wasn’t worth it on Tuesday. Morant buried five 3-pointers in his dominant performance, trusting his jump shot without question.
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Morant was brilliant down the stretch when he overcame steph curry. He scored the last 13 points of the night for Memphis, hitting a 3-pointer and scoring on a pair of isolation possessions in the final 2 1/2 minutes. His last two baskets illustrated his maturity as a leading man. Morant fended off a 3-point attempt when he dared to shoot through the Golden State defense, and didn’t duck his head on a run to the rim. Instead, Morant calmly made his way past the free throw line, contorting his way past jordan poole and later Andrew Wiggins for a couple of shots in the lane. Morant’s athleticism is unmatched in the entire league. He channeled it properly at a critical moment Tuesday night.
Golden State is sure to see a positive regression in shooting when this series resumes on Saturday. A friendly crowd in San Francisco will help improve Tuesday’s eye-popping 7-for-38 mark from beyond the arc, and we look forward to seeing Gary Payton II he returned to the court after logging just three minutes due to an elbow injury in Game 2 (although that doesn’t seem likely). However, this is not a group of Grizzlies that we should expect to wither along the way.
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins has a rotation of nearly a dozen players at his disposal, and this is a roster that can match Golden State’s preferred five-out attack. Jaren Jackson Jr. he’s a versatile defensive anchor, and relatively dominant, when avoiding foul trouble. Desmond Bane and dillon brooks have the length and strength to fight the Splash triplets. Memphis has the personnel and personality to make this series a prolonged headache for the former champions.
We have to be careful not to engage in too much hyperbole after Game 2 of a second-round series. The Grizzlies aren’t exactly the Warriors of 2015. Frankly, they’d be lucky to reach the heights of the Thunder of the 2010s. But every new contender starts somewhere, racking up franchise milestones over the course of a multiyear career.
What we’re seeing in Memphis right now is hopefully just the beginning of what’s to come in the next decade. Performances like Morant’s on Tuesday night make the dream of a championship possible.
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