Warriors-Grizzlies: Timeline of four-year-old rivalry

The Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies bring out the best and sometimes the worst in each other.

It’s a rivalry that’s often one-sided yet still strong in star power as Stephen Curry, Ja Morant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Dillon Brooks go head-to-head. The chirping on and off the court helped make this rivalry one of the most intense in the NBA.

Bad blood has spawned some exciting basketball games, but how did we get here? The rift between these two teams lasted four seasons, and it all started with Andre Iguodala.

Rookies vs Veteran

In July 2019, Memphis acquired Iguodala in exchange for Golden State. The Warriors needed to clear a cap to sign and trade for D’Angelo Russell after Kevin Durant moved to the Brooklyn Nets.

But the 2015 NBA Finals MVP never showed up to training camp or expressed interest in a Memphis outfit. “It was a blessing in disguise… I think it added a few years to my career,” Iguodala said of not participating in “Double One” in January 2020.

The following month, Memphis agreed to a deal with the Miami Heat that sent Iggy to South Beach. But before that, the Grizzlies players expressed dissatisfaction with Iguodala’s short tenure as their teammate.

“The first time I saw him was on TV when he was talking about us,” Brooks said. “It doesn’t even matter. Andre Iguodala is a great player. I feel like he’s doing the right thing for his career, but we really don’t care. It’s not distracting at all. I laugh at such things.” A guy on our team who doesn’t want to be on our team, I can’t wait for us to find a way to trade him so we can play him and show him what Memphis really is.”

Fate 8-seed

As luck would have it, the Grizzlies and the Warriors faced off for the 8th seed in the regular season finale.

Golden State led 55-49 at halftime, then Stephen Curry & Co. exploded in the third quarter and extended their lead to 86-69. Brooks started the fourth quarter with an eight-point streak that closed the gap to 86–77. He remained hot in the final frame and converted a three-point decider with 6:32 left. Shortly thereafter, Green called Brooks’ sixth foul, which sent him to the bench until the final leg at 6:12.

The Warriors won 113–101, but thanks to the NBA’s introduction of the play-in tournament, it didn’t take long for the two teams to meet again.

Five days later, the rematch went into overtime.

Memphis had a 10-point lead with 3:36 left, but Jordan Poole and Curry’s free kicks, combined with well-timed shutdowns by Greene and Andrew Wiggins, sent the game into extra minutes.

The Grizzlies finished in 8th place with a 117–112 win to end a three-year playoff drought.

Strength in numbers

After spending the better part of two seasons as an outsider in the rivalry, things have turned around with Iggy’s return to Golden State for the 2021–22 season.

The Grizzlies went 3-1 in the regular season between the two teams, with Jaren Jackson Jr stirring things up by tweeting the Warriors’ catchphrase after beating them 123-95 in a game that saw Curry, Thompson and Green did not play. .

Beef really rose to prominence when the two teams met in the conference semi-finals. The first game lived up to the hype, but Green only featured in half due to a blowout in the second quarter. Thompson converted a three-pointer with 36 seconds left to give the Warriors a one-point lead. Morant missed a last-second layup that would have been enough to avoid a 117-116 defeat for Memphis.

Broke the code

The second game was another important episode in this turbulent relationship. Brooks was thrown out in the opening minutes of the game after a strike from Gary Payton II, who broke his left elbow in the incident.

The Golden State sideline, including head coach Steve Kerr, saw it as a dirty game.

“Dillon Brooks cracked the code,” Kerr said. “That’s how I see it.”

Oh that trick

The Warriors went into Game 5 3-1, looking to end the Grizzlies’ playoff streak.

Ahead of the series’ potential closure, Curry spoke to Sportzshala’s Kendra Andrews about the Golden State mentality, saying:

“Oh, that trick! This is our game plan.”

“Whoop That Trick” is a song by Memphis rapper Al Capone that served as the Grizzlies’ unofficial anthem and was played on the FedExForum at the end of the game.

In response, the Grizzlies went on a 134–95 rout to avoid relegation.

Steph and Draymond still seemed to be enjoying the moment the song played, despite the large deficit.

The Warriors won Game 6 110–96 to advance to the Conference Finals, with Memphis already looking forward to their next meeting.

“They know we’ll be coming every year,” Brooks said. “We are young, they are getting old, so they know that we come every year.”

Strength in numbers, II

The Golden State won the NBA Finals, but even at the league’s high point, the Grizzlies still came to mind.

“The strength in numbers is alive and well,” Thompson said after winning the championship. “The Grizzlies had one player. [Jaren Jackson Jr.] who tweeted “strength in numbers” after beating us in the regular season, and it made me so angry. I can’t wait to retweet this thing. Damn bum. I had to watch it. I’m like, “That damn clown.” Sorry, this memory just surfaced. Will you mock us? You’ve never been there before. We’ve been there before, we know what it takes. So to be here again, hold it.”

Morant didn’t take his teammate’s insult lightly, and it didn’t take long for Green to intervene.

Two months later, they continued to tweet during the off-season, expressing their satisfaction that the two teams had to face off as part of the NBA’s Christmas roster.

good in the west

Memphis posted a 19–11 record, the best in the conference. Morant memorably stated that he had “a good time in the West” and called the Boston Celtics the Grizzlies’ only rival.

It proved to be prolific bulletin board material for Golden State, who won the Christmas game 123–109. Although this matchup was not a highlight, the history between the teams was clear as seven technical fouls were called, six of which were by the Warriors.

Their encounter on January 26 was made even more dramatic as the Warriors’ comeback was capped off by Poole’s winning layup in the final second of the game.

The feeling is mutual

Things escalated again after Brooks openly shared his disdain for Golden State with Sportzshala’s Tim Keown.

“I don’t like Draymond at all,” Brooks said. “I just don’t like Golden State. I don’t like having anything to do with them. Draymond talks a lot. You won’t find out who Draymond is anywhere else. He plays with soul, plays hard, knows all the ins and outs of their defense. that’s why they like it there.”

This prompted a response from Green on his podcast, The Draymond Green Show.

Brooks and the Grizzlies got the last word (figuratively) after their dominant 131-110 win on March 9, their first victory over the Warriors this season.

Despite the history, Green still says he wouldn’t call Memphis a contender.

“Rivalry is created by the fact that you win, I win. It is clear that we have won four times, and their organization does not have championships, so I cannot consider this a rivalry, ” Green said after the game.

Semantics aside, he cannot deny that the relationship at least entertaining.


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