Supporting cast key in semifinal battle between Ja-Steph
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Klay Thompson savored the moment by spending a few minutes on the court after a roller-coaster of emotions during the final minute.
He hit the game-winning 3-pointer — only to miss two free throws before getting back on defense to force Ja Morant to miss a layup, giving Golden State a 117-116 win. It’s not a championship, but was a huge win for the Warriors and more so for Thompson because of the injuries he’s battled through the past two years.
“Having to watch the last couple of years, just soaking everything in and internalizing the whole atmosphere and just appreciating where I’m at,” Thompson said.
Game 1 showed that whoever wins the 1-on-1 scoring battle between Memphis’ Morant and Stephen Curry of the Warriors doesn’t mean their team will win the game or the series. Supporting casts are crucial at this stage of the postseason.
Thompson was just 3 of 10 from outside the arc and finished with 15 points. Luckily, Jordan Poole helped Golden State’s bench outscore Memphis’ reserves 47-30. Poole had playoff career-highs with 31 points and eight rebounds, and he also matched his playoff career-best with nine assists.
“He was brilliant,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said.
Jaren Jackson Jr. nearly matched Morant’s 34 points with a playoff career-high 33 points in his second straight double-double. Jackson also matched his season high making six 3-pointers.
When the fourth overall pick in 2018 plays like that, Grizzlies’ teammate Kyle Anderson said there’s not a lot of teams that can beat them.
“We need him on the floor,” Anderson said of Jackson on Monday. “That’s tough. We need those type of performances out of him.”
Andrew Wiggins also added 17 for Golden State. Brandon Clarke has scored in double figures each of the first seven games coming off the bench for Memphis, and Grizzlies reserve De’Anthony Melton added 14 against the Warriors after not playing the final two games of the first round.
In the Eastern Conference, Giannis Antetokounmpo got more help from his Bucks’ teammates than Jayson Tatum did from the rest of the Celtics.
Antetokounmpo had a triple-double leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a road win to open their Eastern Conference semifinal with Boston. With Khris Middleton still out with an injured knee, Bobby Portis came through with 15 points and 11 rebounds to go along with Jrue Holiday’s double-double.
Jayson Tatum got little help from his Celtics’ teammates with Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart going a combined 7 of 24.
“I have all the faith in the world in JB,” Tatum said. “No one should hang their heads. Just get ready for the next one.”
BUCKS AT CELTICS
Milwaukee leads 1-0. Game 2, 7:30 p.m. EDT, TNT.
NEED TO KNOW: The defending NBA champion Bucks started slowly but imposed their will on the Celtics in the second half of their 101-89 Game 1 win. Antetokounmpo shot 9 for 25 from the field but still posted his second career playoff triple-double (24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists). The Celtics shot a playoff-low 33% (28 of 84) with just 21 assists and a playoff-high 18 turnovers.
KEEP AN EYE ON: How the Celtics adjust to the Bucks’ pressure. Milwaukee picked Boston’s ball handlers up full court at different times, forcing the Celtics to speed up in some shaky half-court possessions. Boston coach Ime Udoka said changing the approach is a must to free up their offensive flow: “You want to mix it up and at times and attack out of that when they’re pressing.”
INJURY WATCH: Udoka said Smart is questionable for Game 2 dealing with a fair amount of soreness from a bruised thigh hurt in the opener. He got hit twice in the same spot and also left just before halftime with a right shoulder stinger. “He’s a tough guy that’s going to try to play through things,” Udoka said. … Milwaukee guard George Hill was on the court for Monday’s practice doing individual work, but coach Mike Budenholzer said he will remain out with the abdominal strain that kept Hill out all of the Chicago series.
PRESSURE IS ON: Tatum and Brown. Boston’s star duo combined to go 10 of 31 from the field. Tatum managed 21 points, but Brown finished with only 12, going 3 of 9 from the 3-point line with seven turnovers. The Celtics’ offense goes how they go, and another lackluster performance by the tandem would almost certainly lead to a 0-2 deficit.
WARRIORS AT GRIZZLIES
Golden State leads 1-0. Game 2, 9:30 p.m. EDT, TNT.
— NEED TO KNOW: The Warriors outrebounded the NBA’s top rebounding team 51-47 and matched the Grizzlies on the offensive glass with 16 — far above Golden State’s average of 9.8 during the regular season and 8.5 in the playoffs. That helped the Warriors outscore Memphis 26-24 on second-chance points.
— KEEP AN EYE ON: Draymond Green. He was ejected from Game 1 late in the first half for swiping Brandon Clarke’s face with right hand, grabbing the Grizzlies forward’s jersey with his left and pulling Clarke down to the court. Green said on his podcast he thought the NBA might reduce the Flagrant 2 but didn’t. That leaves Green two points from a one-game suspension.
“I’m never going to change the way I play basketball,” Green said. “It’s gotten me this far. It’s gotten me three championships, four All-Stars, Defensive Player of the Year. I’m not going to change now.”
— INJURY WATCH: Bane got some treatment during the second half on the bench for what Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins called “general soreness.” Jenkins said Bane is doing all right, just sore like most of the Grizzlies. Grizzlies center Steven Adams has not been cleared from the health and safety protocols and remains day to day.
— PRESSURE IS ON: Memphis. The Grizzlies already have lost home-court advantage. Dropping Game 2 means going to San Francisco with being swept by the Warriors a much bigger possibility for one of the NBA’s youngest teams playing on its biggest stage yet.
AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower contributed to this report.
More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.