And with that, the play-in tournament is done and the NBA Playoff bracket is officially complete. What a game to close it out! They say that you only need to watch the last two minutes of a basketball game to get a feel for the game. Well, how about the last minute, or thirty seconds. Better yet, how about an overtime period’s worth.
Winning in overtime 117-112, the Memphis Grizzlies will move onto the playoffs as the 8-seed to play the No.1 Utah Jazz on Sunday as one of the youngest teams in the bracket. On the other end, the Golden State Warriors finish their 20 – 21 season with a crushing defeat, the second consecutive season without a playoff berth.
Memphis Grizzlies Highlights
The victory for Memphis couldn’t have been possible with Ja Morant, who absolutely exploded last night with 35 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. An obviously important game for the 21-year-old, Morant has only scored 35+ points six times in the season, averaging around 20 points a game. Most of Morant’s shots came from inside the paint and his sweet spot behind the right side of the horn. While he played exceptional, except in the second quarter, I believe the poise and stability that he brought Memphis in the final minutes in the fourth quarter and in overtime really set the team up for success. A red-hot Stephen Curry could have easily sidewinded the young team.
Of course, Morant wasn’t the only player having himself a night. Teammates Dillon Brooks, Grayson Allen, and Xavier Tillman had double digit point nights. Surprisingly, no double- or triple-doubles for any Grizzlies last night, but Kyle Anderson and Jonas Valanciunas were each one point away! Now officially part of the playoff bracket, Memphis has 48 hours to come up with a strategy holding their own against one of the top teams in the league, with powerhouse players like Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Bojan Bogdanović.
Golden State Warriors Highlights
You definitely have to commend the Golden State Warriors for putting up on heck of a fight and pushing the Grizzlies to overtime. Down by 10 with less than five minutes to go, Curry led the team to make plays, create turnovers, and take advantage of opportunities. Say what you will, the Warriors earned those extra five minutes.
Statically speaking, the Warriors had all the tools. Steph Curry, per his status of the NBA record breaker, led the team with 39 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. No surprise, Curry’s leadership of the Warriors honestly resulted in the team getting the opportunity in the play-in in the first place.
Pairing that with Andrew Wiggins at 22 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists, Draymond Green with a triple-double, and Jordan Poole coming out with 19 points off the bench, the Warriors played a close and efficient game.
I think the fault the Warriors had was getting hot too late, not just in last night’s game, but in the regular season as well. Head Coach Steve Kerr even said the past 22 games have shown that the Warriors are still a playoff contenting team.
As they take the next few months to unwind and relax, you can only hope that they left everything out there, and that they’ll be hungrier than ever to return to the NBA playoffs next year.