The Warriors had an opportunity to extend their season in Friday's 117-112 play-in loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Tied 99-99 after Xavier Tillman missed a potential go-ahead shot with 9.6 seconds left in regulation, the Warriors opted not to call timeout to advance the ball into the frontcourt. Steph Curry drew a double-team, dishing to a wide-open Draymond Green.
Green drove the lane and missed a potential game-winning floater wide as Tillman contested his fellow Michigan State product's shot.
The Warriors, puzzlingly, ended regulation with a timeout in their pocket. Golden State coach Steve Kerr admitted after the loss that was by design.
"We chose not to," Kerr told reporters in a postgame video conference. "We had our shooters on the floor. We had [the Grizzlies] on their heels a little bit, and we knew we were gonna run our high drag with Steph and Draymond. And at that point, I didn't want to disrupt the momentum. We had the last shot, so we chose to go ahead and play."
The Warriors trailed by 13 points at halftime and by nine with 3:08 remaining in regulation. Then, Golden State out-scored Memphis 11-2 until the end of regulation. The Warriors even led, briefly, in overtime.
But the Grizzlies had a counter for each of the Warriors' punches.
When Curry gave the Warriors a 103-101 lead with 3:54 left in overtime, Grayson Allen responded 20 seconds later with a 3-pointer.
When Jordan Poole gave the Warriors a 109-107 lead with 1:50 remaining, Tillman gave the Grizzlies a lead they wouldn't relinquish just 23 seconds after and, ultimately, ended Golden State's season.
The Warriors were the Western Conference's eighth-best team by record during the regular season. In many seasons preceding this one, that would've been enough for a spot in the NBA playoffs.
But Golden State lost two play-in games, one by three points to the Los Angeles Lakers and one by five to Memphis, and now the Warriors' season is over. Small sample sizes leave little margin for error, magnifying every critical moment.
LeBron James' miraculous 3-pointer was one, and Green's missed flaoter was another. During a second straight postseason on the outside looking in, the Warriors might not think of much else.