What we learned as Poole's 31 lead Warriors to chaotic Game 1 win


MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies are young, fast, tough and athletic. The Warriors needed some time to adjust, too. These aren't the Denver Nuggets -- quite the opposite.

What started as a track meet Sunday to start the Western Conference semifinals soon turned into a foul competition and finally a back-and-forth fight between one team full of championship DNA and another looking to dethrone them and make a statement to the entire league.

Even without their heart and vocal leader for the entire second half -- we'll get to that -- the Warriors prevailed in an intense Game 1 on the road, beating the Grizzlies 117-116. 

While Klay Thompson struggled for the majority of the night, scoring just seven points through the first three quarters, he saved his best for last and splashed a 3-pointer with 36.6 seconds left to give the Warriors a 117-116 lead. He then missed both of his free throws with 6.7 seconds on the clock, but the Warriors stopped Ja Morant's attempt at a game-winning layup at the buzzer. 

Steph Curry and Jordan Poole combined to score 55 points to fend off a combined 67 from Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.

Early foul trouble put both teams in a pickle, and this ended up an all-timer, despite questionable calls all game long.

Exhale and grab a towel. That game was full of fans holding their breath and sweating it out for four quarters.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors coming out of Game 1 with a wild win over the Grizzlies.

Draymond Green Ejected

With 1:18 remaining in the first half, Grizzlies big man Brandon Clarke went up for a contested layup. Green first swiped with his right hand before reaching with his left and grabbing Clarke's jersey. As Clarke went down to the floor, Green held onto his jersey but was trying to make sure he didn't slam his body to the hardwood. 

As officials went over the replay, Grizzlies fans began chanting "throw him out!" It all felt like a joke. Steve Kerr and Curry couldn't help but smile and laugh. Those smiles quickly turned into words not suitable for children. Green was hit with a Flagrant 2, ejecting him from the game

Kerr's reaction: "Are you f--king kidding me?!?!" Curry's reaction: "That's f--king crazy!" Draymond's reaction: Watch for yourself. 

The Warriors were down by just one point, 54-53, when Draymond fouled Clarke. The Gonzaga product made three of the four free throws he was awarded, and the Grizzlies went into halftime with a 61-55 lead. 

Over his 17 minutes played, Green put up six points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block and five turnovers. He was the only Warriors starter with a positive plus-minus in the first half.

Memphis Poole Party

Poole got off to an historic start in his first three playoff games, averaging 28.7 points as the Warriors took an early three-games-to-none lead on the Nuggets in the first round. But the Nuggets then put the much-bigger Aaron Gordon on Poole and played as physical as possible with the slender sharpshooter. 

In the final two games of the series, Poole combined to score only 19 points while going 6-for-20 from the field and 2-for-9 from deep. Through three quarters Sunday at the FedEx Forum, Poole had already scored 24 points. Or for the math crowd, five more than he combined to score his previous two games.

The 22-year-old Poole scored a team-high 31 points in 38 minutes off the bench. He shot 12-for-20 from the field and nearly had a triple-double with nine assists and eight rebounds. His heroics were just the latest chapter to his breakout season as we watch a star blossom in front of our eyes.

Bring Your Boxing Gloves

From the pregame introductions to the final buzzer, one thing was clear: We're not in Denver or Minnesota anymore. Everything is different. Not just the crowd, not just the music -- everything. The intensity has been turned up to new levels, for both sides. 

If the first round was a tune-up, the party truly has started now.

This is the series the fans wanted, and perhaps deep down, the series that these two teams wanted in the playoffs throughout the regular season. No matter how many games the second round goes, it's going to take a lot for either team to recover.

Ice up and leave your brooms at home. 

We're in for a good one. Quite possibly a long one, too.

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