SAN FRANCISCO – After the Memphis Grizzlies bowed out of the NBA playoffs with a 110-96 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of their conference semifinal series, Memphis forward Dillon Brooks , said the Grizzlies are on the trail of the Warriors. .
“We are young and they are getting older,” Brooks said. “They know we’re going to come every year.”
Brooks, 26, is the oldest of the Grizzlies’ top eight scorers this season, during which the upstart team from Memphis won 56 games and finished with the No. 2 seed in the West.
After seven consecutive postseason appearances during the 2010s with their “Grit ‘n’ Grind” squad, the Grizzlies began to rebuild in 2018 around a younger core. In the past four drafts, Memphis has added Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke to a roster that included Brooks.
The Grizzlies lost their star third-year point guard, Ja Morant, following their Game 3 loss to the Warriors in San Francisco, during which Morant suffered a bone bruise in his right knee. The Grizzlies responded bravely, leading the Warriors into the Chase Center for most of Game 4, then beating them in Game 5 at Memphis, when they led by as many as 55 points and won by 39.
“One hundred percent,” Brooks said when asked if Morant’s presence during the series could have changed the outcome of Game 4 or 6. “Ja is one of the best point guards in this league, you know that, obviously he would change, but we made do with what we had.
On Friday, Memphis went toe-to-toe with Golden State until the final minutes of the game, when a streak of late shooting by the Warriors propelled them to a 14-point victory.
“This is good motivation, good learning, playing against two of the best shooters in history,” Brooks said. “Going against them was an amazing feeling. It’s big for us, and we’re going to take this all summer long and be ready to do it again.”
Brooks, who hit an airborne Warriors shooting guard, Gary Payton II, on the way to the basket in the opening minutes of Game 2, became an instant villain in the Bay Area. Payton suffered a fractured left elbow on the play, while Brooks was flagrantly fouled 2, ejected from the game and later suspended for Game 3 in San Francisco. When he returned to action, Brooks was booed warmly by the Chase Center crowd every time he touched the ball.
Despite the acrimony, which continued throughout Game 6, during which Brooks and Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson constantly criticized each other, Brooks and his Grizzlies teammates congratulated the victorious Warriors after the final buzzer. After the game, Warriors guard Stephen Curry praised the Grizzlies’ young talent and ability to compete in seasons to come.
“I have a lot of respect for every single guy on the team in terms of how they’re built as a group, individual talent,” Curry said. “They have a lot of energy, a lot of potential in terms of winning at the highest level. They were the top seed for a reason. They had an amazing regular season and dominated through those 82 games. For us to be able to come out of the series with a W, like there was definitely respect. There’s definitely an understanding that they made us better; I’m sure we made them better.”
Curry and Morant have established a mutual admiration over the course of the series, and Curry praised Morant’s maturity after Game 1 in Memphis. After the game, Morant tweeted that the Warriors were his “favorite matchup.” He said, “looking forward to 30 more battles,” referencing Curry’s jersey number.
“His numbers are crazy,” Curry said. “The sky’s the limit. Like I said, they’re going to be around for a long time, fighting for Western Conference prowess. So we’re going to enjoy this and keep moving toward our goal, but you have to understand that they’re going to be around for the long haul, and he’s a problem. So it’s definitely an amazing matchup, fun, entertaining, high level basketball, all the antics and pettiness and all that stuff, I love all of it.”