Golden State advances to the Western Conference Finals

SAN FRANCISCO – The Chase Center audience sang “Whoop that trick! Whoop what a trick! towards the end of the fourth quarter after the Warriors walked away with a double-digit lead.

The cheers mocked the unofficial Grizzlies anthem, which Stephen Curry had said was the mentality of the team heading into Game 5, a comment that didn’t fit well in Memphis.

“It was phenomenal,” a grinning Curry said of cheers from the crowd after the Warriors knocked the Grizzlies out of the postseason in a 110-96 win. “Part of the fun of the playoffs, fans can enjoy the celebration however they want.”

The Grizzlies made their bid in Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals on Wednesday night, beating the Warriors by 39 points. But it was Golden State that put the young and athletic Grizzlies in their place on Friday night in Game 6.

With the win, the Warriors punched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals for the sixth time in eight years and concluded the Memphis season.

“It’s special,” said Klay Thompson of Golden State who returned to the conference finals after a two-year hiatus. “Everything we have benefited from in recent years is truly an incredible opportunity … We have a great match ahead of us because, as we know, as each round progresses, it gets a little more difficult.”

“Game 6 Klay” appeared on Friday night, scoring 30 points. And Curry scored 11 of his 29 points in the last quarter.

After Thompson made his eighth triple to give the Warriors a 13-point lead with less than three minutes to go, the Warriors guard jumped out onto the pitch, throwing six fingers in the air. Then he galloped back into the team group, high-fiving all teammates in the process.

“Thirty sounds a lot better than 27,” Thompson said of his celebration. “Also, I’ve had a lot of pent-up energy over the past couple of years and to be in this situation and to seal the game there, it all came out.”

The Warriors started Kevon Looney for the first time in this series. He replaced Jonathan Kuminga to give Golden State an aggressive rebounder and a veteran defender to face Grizzlies center Steven Adams. The inclusion of Looney created a livelier start to the game for the Warriors after slow starts hampered them in previous matches.

Golden State jumped 8 points clear in the first quarter, although the Grizzlies were able to come back. Neither team took a double-digit lead until the Warriors took the lead at the end of the fourth quarter.

Rebound was a key factor in this series and the Warriors were the best team on Friday as they have been for most of the series. The Grizzlies bounced 70-44, dominating the offensive boards 25-10.

Looney was by far the best rebounder on the field. He had a career-high 22 rebounds and knocked down as many as the entire Grizzlies team in the first quarter. His 11 rebounds in the first quarter were the highest for him in his career and equaled a Warriors playoff record set by Larry Smith in 1987.

Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins both finished with double doubles. Green got 16 rebounds and scored 14 points. And Wiggins, who was one of the most impactful players in the Warriors on Friday, scored 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The Warriors seemed to literally throw the game away with several reckless passes and sloppy ball handling. Golden State had 19 turnovers, which the Grizzlies capitalized on by scoring 18 points, but it didn’t lead to the Warriors’ demise as it did in Game 5.

Desmond Bane had 25 points, Dillon Brooks added 30 and Jaren Jackson Jr. recorded 12 points and four blocks.

The Grizzlies were without top scorer Ja Morant for the third straight game as he sustained a bone bruise in his right knee.

Meanwhile, the Warriors were left without coach Steve Kerr for the second straight game after he tested positive for COVID-19. Mike Brown, who was hired to coach the Sacramento Kings earlier this week, was at the helm for a third straight game. He boasts an all-time post-season record of 13-1 as he replaces Kerr.

Brooks was rated a Flagrant 1 foul in the second quarter after shoving Curry. With three flagrant fouls, Brooks was in danger of being banned for a match, but the Warriors didn’t even give him a chance, effectively ending his season with their win.

The Warriors will have four days of rest before the start of the Western Conference Finals. They will play series winner Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks, which will be decided in Game 7 on Sunday night.

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