People love playoff basketball because it is exciting, dramatic, and just downright entertaining. When two of the top teams in the league play with the chance to advance closer to the championship on the line, it makes for good television. What we are learning this year is that when those two teams are the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors, it makes for even better television.
Playing a fun brand of basketball isn’t the most important quality of a title contender but it is the best way to capture the world’s attention. The Warriors have been doing that for years. The Grizzlies just started doing that this season. These two teams do not have any sort of rivalry or a recent history of playoff matchups. This series is entertaining because the players on the court are making it worth the watch every night.
Every player deserves credit for drawing fans to the games, but it is really the superstars that are doing the heavy lifting. We all knew the Warriors had that star power with two-time MVP Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson, but the Grizzlies have arguably had the biggest star in the series.
Ja Morant emerged this year as the brightest young star in the NBA. He put together an incredible regular season and so far has backed it up in the playoffs. But he has taken it to another level in this series. He has scored 81 points in the two games. 47 of those points came in the most recent contest, which is the most scored by a single player in these playoffs. There are not very many players in general that can go toe-to-toe with Curry, let alone any 22-year-olds that can, but Morant has earned that distinction.
The other thing that has made this series so great is the actual games being played. Even in a back-and-forth series, there can sometimes be non-competitive games mixed in. Even though the Grizzles and Warriors have played just twice, both games have been fantastic.
The first contest was a 117-116 win by the Warriors that featured late-game heroics by Thompson on both ends of the court. The second game was a 106-101 win by the Grizzlies that was dominated by Morant and his incredible scoring performance. Playing games that are close down the stretch is the best way to draw attention to a series. People love tight games where either team can win, and that is exactly what this series has been. Five more games of this might break the internet.
What puts this series over the top is the little influx of drama that it has been injected with, courtesy of the referees (and having Draymond Green in the series doesn’t hurt that). Each game has included a player getting ejected via flagrant 2 foul. In the first game, it was Green who received the foul after smacking Brandon Clarke in the face and pulling him down by his jersey (which somehow was less violent than it sounds written out). That call drew a lot of attention to the referees and inspired a lot of discussion over the next day or two. In the second game, it was Dillon Brooks who was disqualified after a questionable contest on a Gary Payton II layup attempt less than three minutes into the game. The foul left Payton with a dislocated elbow and has certainly provided the series with a spark that it wasn’t lacking to begin with.
This series is only heating up. Both on the court and in the media. It is a series that pits the greatest sports dynasty of the last decade against one of the up-and-coming teams in the league. If you haven’t watched any of the games in this series then I am sorry because you have missed out on some incredible basketball. But lucky for you, there are at least three more games left with the possibility of two more. So I would advise you to tune in now and start paying attention to this series because it represents everything that is right with the sport right now.