Dubs might have discovered maturity in Game 3 rout of Memphis


The Warriors’ edge throughout the playoffs was supposed to be their experience, the “championship DNA” existing within the members of the three-ring club at their core. Seven games into the postseason, rarely had that element been glimpsed.

Halfway through their eighth game, the Warriors finally found it.

In the second half of Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against Memphis on Saturday, the Warriors looked like a team possessing judgment and wisdom. They displayed good habits and avoided the sloppiness that plagued them in the first half.

And by doing so, the Warriors turned a close game into a rout, outscoring the Grizzlies 78-55 after halftime and coasting to a 142-112 victory that was their most decisive postseason triumph since a 41-point win over the Rockets in May 2018.

“We’ve grown here in the first two rounds,” coach Steve Kerr said on Sunday. “Because we have the mix that we do, these veteran guys who have won championships, but also newer additions to the team . . . you really need to go through the fire together.”

The three-ring club is missing Andre Iguodala but has plenty of knowledge in Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. That foundation is trying to meld with the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga and Otto Porter Jr. – teammates with little or no postseason experience.

That might account for some of the choppiness against the Nuggets and also the first two games against the Grizzlies. There were many instances in which the Warriors appeared to be the team making the mistakes often attributed to youth and inexperience.

Facing the likes of Nikola Jokic and Ja Morant is, according to Kerr, “what forges a team.”

The Warriors were messy for most of the first half, shooting and rebounding well but committing 14 turnovers, giving Memphis 19 points in the first 24 minutes.

Golden State was much sharper in the second half, continuing to shoot and rebound but added the element of maturity with the ball. The total of three turnovers was their cleanest half of the postseason.

“Our keys are very simple in terms of basketball: Don't turn the ball over, take good shots and don't foul, and rebound,” Curry said Saturday night.

Those factors are essential in unlocking their full potential. Fouls aside, the Warriors accomplished all four of those goals in the second half of Game 3. Suddenly, they looked like the team many expected to see in the playoffs. Poised, stable and efficient.

“You saw plenty of turnovers early in the game, where we were just trying to force things,” Kerr said. “By halftime, our guys had settled in and that really showed in the third quarter. We executed really well and just made simple plays. That’s going to be the message for the rest of this series. We have to keep it simple.”

Even with their solid second half on Saturday, the Warriors committed more turnovers in Game 3, 17-12. They have committed 10 more turnovers (53-43) than the young team with little playoff experience and, therefore, seemingly more likely to be rattled by high-stakes competition – and more likely to struggle with composure.

There are some signs of the latter, most notably Dillon Brooks’ clobbering of an airborne Gary Payton II in Game 1 and Kyle Anderson’s outburst in Game 3, resulting in an ejection.

Though Draymond has been Draymond, not always able to keep a lid on his emotions, the Warriors generally have comported themselves as the more seasoned team.

“It’s a great team, hell of a team,” Kerr said of the Grizzlies. “They’re competitive. They want what we have. If you look at the history of the league, this is how it works. A younger team is trying to take over. Any time you have those situations, those types of matchups, it gets physical.”

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The Warriors generally have matched the physicality, winning the battles of rebounding and paint points. In the second half of Game 3, they won the battle of not beating themselves.

If they can bottle it twice more the coming week, they’ll likely oust Memphis and advance to the conference semifinals. Bottle it six more times, they’re on to the NBA Finals.

Ten more times? That might result in the Bay Area celebrating a Warriors championship for the fourth time in eight years.

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