Warriors hustle their way to Game 1 win over Grizzlies


MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Among a handful of possible concerns for the Warriors going into their Western Conference semifinal series against the Memphis Grizzlies, the biggest might have been how the Warriors would fare in the rebounding battle. 

Even with Grizzlies center Steven Adams, who was played off the court in the first round, being in health and safety protocols, Memphis still is the bigger team with players like Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman having bricks rest upon his shoulders. The Grizzlies are about more than just size, though. 

They attack the glass and play with springs in their shoes and fight in their heart. The Grizzlies led the NBA in rebounds per game (49.2) in the regular season, and the Warriors ranked seventh by averaging 45.5 per game. More notably, the Grizzlies top the league in offensive rebounds per game at 14.1, and the Warriors were all the way down at 20th with 9.8 offensive rebounds per contest.

But in Golden State's Game 1 win Sunday at FedExForum, the Warriors matched Memphis in rebounds off hustle, and beat them there in crunch time. 

"We rebounded," Steve Kerr said after the win when talking about the keys to victory. "We outrebounded them, which is the first time we did that this year." 

The Warriors went 1-3 against the Grizzlies in the regular season, with a hungry Memphis squad bullying them at times. At the start of Sunday's series opener, it looked like that would be the case again as the Warriors started small without a traditional center. 

Through the first quarter, the Grizzlies grabbed 20 rebounds, seven coming on the offensive side of the court. The Warriors snatched 13, and four came on offense. Whether it be the starting lineup or the final box score, though, these Warriors have proven time and time again that it's not how you start but how you finish.

That certainly was the case again to open the second round of the playoffs. 

Golden State ended up grabbing 51 rebounds, and 16 came on offense. Memphis also totaled 16 offensive boards but was outrebounded by four. In the fourth quarter, the Warriors came away with 15 rebounds, which was their most of any quarter. They secured five offensive rebounds, and the Grizzlies grabbed nine total rebounds -- six on defense and three on offense. 

Plus, the Warriors did this all without Draymond Green in the second half after being ejected for a Flagrant 2 foul near the end of the first half.

Go back and watch how the Warriors got it done, too. It was tips, swatting the ball to teammates, dives and pure hustle. The Warriors got dirty when they had to and came out clean with a win where everyone might have needed an ice. 

Klay Thompson's game-winning 3-pointer came after a series of hustle plays from Andrew Wiggins and then Thompson himself. Perhaps the second-most important points came off the Warriors refusing to give up, too. 

With just over two minutes left in the game and the Warriors down 112-110, Steph Curry clanked a 3-point attempt. Wiggins sprinted in from behind the 3-point line and tried to grab a rebound over Clarke and Jackson Jr. He very well could have altered their path for an easy rebound, the ball bounced off Clarke's hand, Gary Payton II raced to it and dove for the ball before it bounced into Jordan Poole's hands. All of the Grizzlies were out of place, and Poole easily hit a wide-open Wiggins under the basket for an easy dunk to tie the game. 

Then there's the game-winner.

Following the Warriors going down by one with 1:16 remaining, they got the shot they wanted with a 3-pointer from Thompson. But his shot was too strong. Wiggins read the rebound perfectly, dove on the hardwood to keep the play alive and sent a bounce pass to Curry. Wiggins got back, set up under the basket and tipped another miss -- this time from Curry -- more than once before Payton tipped it backwards and Thompson ended up on the ground fighting for the ball with Dillon Brooks. 

Clarke stepped out of bounds trying to throw the ball back in on the ensuing jump ball. Warriors ball, three points for Thompson three seconds later. Warriors 117, Grizzlies 116. The same score that flashed at the final buzzer. 

Here are both of Wiggins' hustle plays on the offensive glass in the final two minutes. 

And here's Thompson's game-winning 3-pointer to start off your Monday morning with a smile.

RELATED: Clarke's zesty comments on Draymond add spice to Dubs-Grizzlies

Six Warriors finished the win with at least six rebounds, and four of those players came off the bench. Wiggins, Poole and Otto Porter Jr. all grabbed eight rebounds. Payton came away with his six, as did Jonathan Kuminga and Kevon Looney. It was a team effort on a group project that raised everyone's rebounding GPA. 

The Warriors matched the Grizzlies' heart and hustle, and topped it when it mattered most. One gritty win over the Grizzlies down, three to go. 

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