Don't think Memphis Grizzlies can take out Golden State after Game 5? Think again | Giannotto

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There was so much “Whoop That Trick” in the air, and so much time to revel in it when the Memphis Grizzlies drilled the Golden State Warriors, 134-95, Wednesday night. There was so much attached to it because of how Stephen Curry tried to weaponize this distinctly Memphis celebration for his own use.

So the final answer Desmond Bane gave felt secondary even as he said it.

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“It almost seems like when somebody thinks we can’t do something, we end up doing it,” Bane declared, and right there he encapsulated what Game 5 of this Western Conference semifinal represented.

Right there, he alluded to what these Grizzlies might just be crazy enough to pull off.

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They head back to San Francisco with momentum as their tailwind, with a 3-2 series deficit that very well could be a 3-2 series advantage had even just a little gone their way.

Don't think memphis grizzlies can take out golden state after game 5? again | giannotto

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Had Steven Adams not gotten COVID-19 and missed Games 1 and 2. Had Ja Morant made that last-second layup in Game 1. Had Morant not gotten injured. Had Bane been healthier. Had Dillon Brooks not been suspended for Game 3, or not lost his ever-loving mind at the worst possible moment in Game 4.

All of which, in the aftermath of what just transpired at FedExForum, in the aftermath of two games without Morant that Memphis led for all but 45.7 seconds, can easily lead one to the most optimistic of observations.

OPINION:This ‘trick’ is on Golden State and Steph Curry as Memphis Grizzlies dominate Game 5

OPINION:I hate the Golden State Warriors and the NBA playoffs are better off for it

Maybe the Grizzlies can do this. Maybe they can go to the Chase Center on Friday night, win again, and force a Game 7 back at FedExForum on Monday. Maybe then all bets will be off.

The oddsmakers will say it’s unlikely. That Wednesday was a one-off matching a desperate team facing elimination on its home court against an opponent that knew it had another chance to close out this series on its home court.

But nothing about this season suggests Memphis is content to accept this as the end, remembered simply as the last glorious night for the city to bask in this special season. Even if it might be.

Don't think memphis grizzlies can take out golden state after game 5? again | giannotto

A night in which Golden State somehow trailed by 55 points at the end of the third quarter and Curry had “Whoop That Trick” shoved back in his face. Literally, Memphis rapper Al Kapone shouted, “Steph Curry, in your face,” in the middle of his latest rendition, in response to Curry invoking the phrase pregame as the Warriors’ game plan for Wednesday.

“It’s the best,” Curry said. “Even when you’re getting smacked, you’ve got to find some fun in it.”

Those words felt more like a defense mechanism than embracing the moment. They felt like a veteran trying to calm a bunch of teammates he knows must be nervous. Same goes for Draymond Green’s antics, waving his towel along with the Growl Towels during “Whoop That Trick” and then singing the words himself as he left a postgame press conference.

After so much went awry for Memphis to begin this series, so much suddenly went right.

MORE:Grizzlies, Al Kapone taunt Stephen Curry, Draymond Green with ‘Whoop That Trick’ in Game 5

UPDATE:Taylor Jenkins: Ja Morant’s knee injury is ‘non-surgical,’ defends saying Jordan Poole caused it

Bane looked downright spry, his sore back looking as healthy as it has been since the Minnesota series. Tyus Jones made Morant’s absence hardly noticeable once again, particularly since no fourth-quarter heroics were required. Adams helped spearhead an attack in which the Grizzlies finally dominated inside like so many expected they would before this series began.

Jaren Jackson Jr. was the best version of himself, stroking 3-pointers and scoring over defenders in the paint and blocking shots at the rim. Brooks persevered through a tweaked hamstring and the torture that came from a series that had been nothing short of a disaster for him before Wednesday

Memphis scored 24 second-chance points, got 52 points from its bench, forced 22 turnovers and turned those into 29 more points. It was the very formula the Grizzlies executed so many times during the regular season, the formula that helped them thrive without Morant so often when it ran counter to logic.

Don't think memphis grizzlies can take out golden state after game 5? again | giannotto

On the flip side, invaluable Golden State forward Otto Porter left Game 5 with a foot injury. Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins had their worst performances of the playoffs. Green, meanwhile, is being left wide open to shoot (and won’t shoot), yet another adjustment caused by Adams’ revival. Andre Iguodala hasn’t been booed by FedExForum because he hasn’t played yet due to injury.

And need we remind you Memphis could have won Game 1 and should have won Game 4 of this series. Or that the Grizzlies have now limited Golden State to 101 points or fewer in three of the past four games. That happened once during the regular season, but never with the full contingent of Warriors available.

They are vulnerable, and bothered by the Grizzlies’ athleticism. They haven’t adjusted well to facing Memphis without Morant. They don’t have their coach, Steve Kerr, and might not again in Game 6.

“Still in control of the series,” Curry noted, and he’s correct in the traditional sense.

This may well be a short-lived dream for Memphis. Wednesday might become the last hurrah of a Grizzlies team that’s in the midst of one of the greatest seasons in franchise history, regardless of what happens next. Many a group staved off elimination once. It’s exponentially harder to do it two and three times, as the Grizzlies must. That’s the hole they’ve dug for themselves.

But darn it if they haven’t come ready with their shovels, ready to bury these aging Warriors under the joyous and defiant sounds of their playoff anthem.

If you don’t think they can do it, if two more whoopings still sounds far-fetched, well that might just be exactly what they need to hear.

You can reach Commercial Appeal columnist Mark Giannotto via email at mgiannotto@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter: @mgiannotto

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