The Grizzlies enter their regular season finale against the Boston Celtics after throttling the New Orleans Pelicans last night 141-114. The Grizzlies, clearly ready for the playoffs after said performance, announced that basically half of the team would be out tonight to preserve health for the playoffs.
The Celtics, meanwhile, enter the game with a couple of different playoff scenarios at stake. A win would jump them up to the 2-seed in the Eastern Conference, setting up a potential first round series against the Brooklyn Nets. Celtics Head Coach Ime Udoka acknowledged the various different scenarios in pre-game, and was relatively non-commital to the Celtics game plan tonight outside of saying “let’s do what we do”. At least initially, the Celtics decided to go all out with their normal starting 5.
That doesn’t mean the Grizzlies will just lay down either though, as we saw last week when Dillon Brooks and Santi Aldama led the Grizzlies to a shocking win over the Phoenix Suns without a majority of the “core” of the roster.
The Grizzlies bench unit struggled early to get a ton going offensively against the Celtics fantastic defense. The effort was there as the Grizzlies defense made things tough for Boston, but offensively the Grizzlies really struggled to create their own offense. They shot a ton of triples early in the quarter, and got most of their offense from fast break or second chance opportunities. It wasn’t pretty, but the Grizzlies kept things close after the first 12 as they trailed 32-25. The Grizzlies had 8 assists on 9 made baskets and forced 5 Celtic turnovers as they were able to keep things close in the first.
After early foul trouble in the first quarter, Melton was aggressive to start the second quarter, hitting a triple and nearly ending Aaron Nesmith’s career with a poster dunk attempt. The Celtics started to get comfortable in the 2nd quarter, though, extending their lead to double digits after the Grizzlies had cut it down to 3. The Celtics used a 38-18 run in the final 10 minutes of the second quarter to take a 72-49 lead at the halftime break. The Grizzlies offense struggled with consistency against the stout Celtics defense, while Jayson Tatum opened up the Celtics offense with 26 points on 9-11 shooting.
The Celtics kept their starters in for the majority of the 3rd quarter as they held a comfortable 20+ point lead throughout the quarter. At this point, the outcome was known but there was still some intrigue in the game in terms of development. Both Ziaire Williams and De’Anthony Melton had a green light to shoot it as much as possible, and John Konchar entered the 4th quarter on triple-double watch scoring 13 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists as the Grizzlies entered the final quarter down 104-79.
John got his triple double as the Grizzlies fell 139-110 to the Boston Celtics to wrap up the regular season.
The Grizzlies await their playoff opponent. The Minnesota Timberwolves will host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night with the winner set to be the Grizzlies opponent in the first round of the playoffs. It’s been expected the Grizzlies will play either of those teams for some time, but the last few days officially clinched that. The Grizzlies will host Game 1 on either Saturday or Sunday next weekend.
That Jayson Tatum guy is pretty good! The Grizzlies defense actually played really good defense throughout the first 14-ish minutes of the game. Tatum cooked, but the others didn’t really get going. In the second quarter, though, Tatum took over and it opened up the Celtics offense as they jumped out to their big lead. Tatum finished the game with 31 points and 9 rebounds on 11-14 shooting (6-8 from deep) in just 26 minutes.
Jitty triple double! Pretty much all Memphis eyes were on Konchar in the 4th quarter, as he got his first career triple double finishing the game with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.