What we learned as Game 6 Klay leads Warriors to West finals originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Survive and advance. The Warriors did exactly that to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 110-96 in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Friday night at Chase.
After a two-year playoff hiatus, it’s back to the Western Conference Finals for the Warriors.
Klay Thompson led all scorers with 30 points, followed by 29 from Steph Curry in a group effort. Andrew Wiggins was fantastic with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, and Draymond Green had a near triple-double with 14 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists. And unsung hero Kevon Looney had an incredible 22 rebounds in 35 minutes played.
Warriors Enemy No. 1 Dillon Brooks decided to find his offense and was a pest all game with 30 points and seven 3-pointers, but that still wasn’t enough for the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies.
After falling flat on their face two nights ago, the Warriors came out hungry and with a much better sense of urgency. They weren’t without mistakes, but their effort always was there and they went on the right runs when called for.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ Game 6 win over the Grizzlies. Eight down, eight to go.
Game 6 Klay Returns
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. A new chapter of Thompson’s Game 6 heroics were written Friday night, and the Warriors needed all of them. This was his first crack at a Game 6 at Chase Center, and he didn’t disappoint. Right from the start, it was clear we could be in for one of those nights from Klay.
He drained his first 3-point attempt, and that was only a taste of what we were all in for. Thompson made his first five shots from deep and finished the night with eight. His 30 points led both sides, and were his most of the series.
Including his 41 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals, Thompson now has averaged 28.1 points in his last seven Game 6 performances. The Warriors always seek a sweep, but they know what’s about to happen when they play a Game 6.
For a man with many nicknames, “Game 6 Klay” still is the most fitting.
Mike Brown put an end to the experiment of starting Jonathan Kuminga, and that clearly was the right decision. To counter the size of Steven Adams and help get the Grizzlies off the glass, Brown put center Kevon Looney back into the starting lineup for the first time since Game 4 of the first round. He did exactly what the coaching staff hoped he would.
In the first quarter alone, Looney grabbed 11 rebounds. That set a new career-high for any quarter, and it matched the Warriors’ playoff record for rebounds in a quarter since the franchise moved to the West Coast. Looney in the first quarter came away with five offensive rebounds.
The Warriors had four offensive rebounds in all of Game 4.
Looney played 35 minutes, and finished the night with 22 rebounds — 11 on offense and 11 on defense. The Warriors as a whole outrebounded the Grizzlies 70-44. That’ll do. The veteran center showed again why he’s Mr. Reliable to these Warriors.
What Comes Next
The Warriors needed this. That isn’t only to state the obvious, it’s to stress how important some rest right now is, and finally putting an end to this series.
Golden State already was without Gary Payton II and Andre Iguodala. Otto Porter Jr. was ruled out before the game with right foot soreness. Rest up.
Now, the Warriors play either the Phoenix Suns or Dallas Mavericks to begin the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday. If it’s the Suns, the Warriors travel to the desert. If the Mavs beat the Suns in Game 7, the Warriors get to start the next series at home.
Handing out 19 turnovers won’t cut it against either team.
There’s no doubt the Warriors are happy to be done with the Grizzlies. They have to be better against whoever they play next. But when they’re at their peak as they were at times on Friday night, they sure are fun to watch.