Ja Morant is looking to make a historic push to the NBA Finals in just his third season in the NBA. The young point guard is facing playoff juggernauts in the Golden State Warriors in the second round, and just dropped Game 1 at home tonight.
Memphis kept the game close after they were given a boost through the ejection of Draymond Green and were in a final-play situation where Morant could have won the game if he made a layup. After Klay Thompson missed free throws, with about 3 seconds left on the clock, Morant drove inside and tried finishing at the rim with a layup that didn't end up inside the basket.
Morant had beaten his defenders to the spot and has made shots like that consistently this season, except in that instance. He expressed his disappointment post-game about missing a shot he can make but is ready to move on to the next game.
Morant had been locked up by Steph Curry on a play prior to that while driving in, so Ja's late-game execution did have flaws in it. Considering how the Warriors sagged off on him in those plays to cover the rim, he could have kicked it out to the very proficient shooters that the Grizzlies have.
The final shot couldn't have been any different given the lack of time. If Morant would have made it, Memphis would have protected home court going into Game 2.
The Warriors look like a well-oiled machine and have an interesting matchup against the youngsters in Memphis. However, their age hasn't hurt them from being one of the best teams in the league, so they should be expected to fight back in the series.
The Warriors are the perfect litmus test to see if the Grizz are pretenders or contenders, and Game 1 proved that it's closer than everyone would have thought.