What the Memphis Grizzlies' Game 2 Win Means for the NBA Playoffs
The Memphis Grizzlies did the mostly unthinkable: they defeated the Golden State Warriors in Oracle Arena.
In fact, they practically dominated from start to finish. The return of Mike Conley to the lineup surely helped. Conley dropped a game-high Offensive Rating of 147 and an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 79.2 percent, second only to Andrew Bogut's 80.0 percent on just five attempts.
Tony Allen repeatedly made his case for First-Team All Defense over and over again. Allen posted a Defensive Rating of 91 in more than 37 minutes and racked up four steals and a block. He helped hold the Warriors to just 90 points, a mark they failed to top just twice during the entire regular season.
Memphis has three home games in the now best-of-five series with the Warriors. How far can they push Golden State? And how did this win help shift the landscape of the entire NBA playoffs?
Grit and Grind
The Grizzlies posted a home record of 31-10 in the regular season, which tied for the fifth-best mark in the NBA. They are also just one of two teams in the 2015 playoffs with a perfect record at home. They're 3-0, and the Washington Wizards are 2-0.
Their Defensive Rating of 97.8 at home in the regular season ranked fourth in the NBA. Slowing down the Warriors' offense (their 111.6 Offensive Rating was second-best in the regular season) isn't going to be easy game after game, but the Grizzlies have the recipe to do it, especially now with homecourt advantage in the remaining series.
Was Game 2 enough to turn the tide in their favor, though?
Not so fast.
According to our algorithms, the Grizzlies still own just more than a 27 percent chance to finish off the Warriors despite the promising situation.
If the Warriors are still heavily favored according to our math, then the numbers shouldn't be too concerning regarding their title odds, right?
Golden State's Outlook
Curry managed an Offensive Rating of just 92 in Game 2, and only one starter had an Offensive Rating better than 98 for Golden State (Bogut's was a significant 128). Klay Thompson mustered an Offensive Rating of just 68, thanks in large part to his 6-of-15 shooting night. His Effective Field Goal Percentage (43.3 percent) was actually better than Curry's (42.1 percent), but the Grizzlies locked up the Warriors like practically no other team has this year.
Of course, we know that Golden State is still (quite heavily) favored against the Grizzlies, but the team's title odds now sit at just 39.42 percent, a drop of nearly a full 10 percentage points.
If Golden State is just as good and still have a great chance to finish off the Grizzlies, what happened to their (still really high) title odds?
The Rest of the League
When identifying the likely landing place of the NBA crown this year, Golden State has rightly been the primary focal point. They reeled off win-after-win early in the year thanks to an elite defense that let them be deemed the best team in the NBA and eventually pull away from the rest of the league.
However, there is some significant competition within the conference: the Los Angeles Clippers. Blake Griffin is having a playoffs for the ages, and the team shocked the Houston Rockets by defeating them without Chris Paul. The Clippers now boast a 23.64 percent chance to win the title -- by far the best chances aside from the Warriors.
The biggest threat in the East is the Atlanta Hawks, according to our algorithms. The Hawks own an 11.94 percent chance to win it all after their own Game 2 victory against the Wizards.
At the end of the day, the Grizzlies have prolonged the series against the Warriors, but rather than get much closer to knocking off the Warriors themselves, it seems as though their victory may have helped the Clippers, after an outstanding showing in Game 1 against Houston, close the gap on the favorites.