NBA playoff exit leaves young talented Grizzlies ‘motivated’ for more
Published: May 15, 2022 09:59 PM
A young, talented Memphis Grizzlies team vowed to come back stronger after they were ousted by the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

With star Ja Morant sidelined due to a knee injury, the Grizzlies - who blew out the Warriors to stay alive in Game 5 - just didn't have the firepower to hold off Golden State again in game six on Friday.

But they'll be back - and Dillon Brooks vowed the franchise that won 56 regular-­season games to earn the second seed in the Western Conference would have the Warriors, especially, in their sights.

"We're young, and they're getting old," the 26-year-old Brooks said. "They know that we are going to come every single year."

Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, veterans of five NBA Finals campaigns that yielded three titles, didn't need to be told it.

"That's an incredible young team," Green said. "They can be special. They can be really special."

Curry added, "You have to understand that they are going to be around for the long haul."

A much different version of the Grizzlies reached the playoffs for seven straight seasons from 2011 through 2017.

The rebuilding that began after that came to fruition this year as the Grizzlies posted the second-best record in the league.

Zach Kleinman, who selected Morant with the second pick in the 2019 draft and hired head coach Taylor Jenkins, became, at 33, the youngest ever to win the NBA Executive of the Year award earlier this week.

His task now will be to keep his team's core together and point them at the playoffs again next season - presumably with Morant recovered from the bone bruise in his knee that sidelined him the last three games of the Warriors series.

Even without Morant, the Grizzlies led the Warriors by as many as 55 points in their game-five rout.

But his absence was felt late as the Warriors pulled away to win games four and six.

Brooks said it was "100 percent" that the effervescent point guard's presence might have changed things. "Ja is one of the best point guards in this league - you guys know that - obviously it would change, but we made do with what we had," he said.

Far from shattering, Brooks said the loss to the Warriors - ousted by Memphis in the play-in last season - was "good motivation, good learning, playing against two of the best shooters in history."

"It's big for us, and we're going to take this throughout the summer and be ready to do it again."