Leading Off

Warriors win – and lose – on three-point shooting

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, right, dribbles against Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph during the second half of Game 5 in a second-round NBA playoff basketball series in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, May 13, 2015.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, right, dribbles against Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph during the second half of Game 5 in a second-round NBA playoff basketball series in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, May 13, 2015. AP

The Warriors received a lot of credit for their defense after Wednesday’s 98-78 rout of the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinals, and rightfully so.

They’ve held the Grizzlies, who averaged 98.3 points during the regular season, to 90 or fewer points in all five games, and back-to-back convincing victories have given the Warriors a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

But, more than anything, their three-point shooting has been a key in whether they win or lose games in this series.

The Warriors led the league in three-point shooting during the regular season, making 39.8 percent of their attempts. The dynamic duo of Stephen Curry (286 of 646, 44.3 percent) and Klay Thompson (239 of 545, 43.9 percent) were first and second. And 43 percent of Curry’s baskets were three-pointers, higher than any MVP in history.

So it’s no surprise they’ve attempted 24 or more three-pointers in every playoff game this season.

When they shot well against the Grizzlies, they won easily. And when they shot poorly, they lost.

Game 1: 101-86 victory; 13-28, 46.4 percent

Game 2: 90-97 loss; 6-26, 23.1 percent

Game 3: 99-89 loss; 6-26, 23.1 percent (yes, identical, a statistical oddity)

Game 4: 101-84 victory, 14-33, 42.4 percent

Game 5: 98-78 victory, 14-30, 46.7 percent

Just as they have all season, the Warriors will come out firing Friday in Game 6 in Memphis. They’ll put up 25 or more shots from outside the arc and make 40 percent of them.

The Warriors and their fans laughed at Charles Barkley and others who have said their jump-shooting offense can’t win an NBA title.

And we figure they’ll be laughing more Friday night after advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since the 1975-76 season.

Tom Couzens: (916) 326-1097, @tomcouzens

Playbook

WHAT TO WATCH

NBA playoffs, Golden State at Memphis, 6:30 p.m., ESPN: Look for the Warriors to continue their launch party and close out the series.

TRENDING ON TWITTER

#Warriors: After crushing the Memphis Grizzlies for the second game in a row, Dubs fans have forgotten Games 2 and 3.

ON THIS DATE

May 15, 1948: Citation, ridden by Eddie Arcaro, wins the Preakness Stakes by 51/2 lengths over Vulcan’s Forge. Citation went on to win the Belmont Stakes and complete the Triple Crown.

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