The Memphis Grizzlies’ lead in the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference is gone.
After a rough showing so far in the NBA’s bubble at Walt Disney World, Memphis has just one game left to earn a spot in the Western Conference play-in series this weekend.
If they beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, their final seeding game, they’re in.
If they lose, they’ll need both Phoenix and San Antonio to lose, too.
“It’s simple,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said Tuesday after their 122-107 loss to the Boston Celtics, via ESPN. “I told the guys we’ve got one game left, we’ve got to try to find a way to play our best game at this point.
“We’ve got to lay it on the line. Whatever’s been in the past is in the past.”
‘We’ve got a chance’
The Grizzlies may have caught a break ahead of their final seeding game.
Bucks star and reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was ejected from their game against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night after he head-butted Moritz Wagner in the second quarter, and will likely face some sort of discipline from the league.
He may not be available on Thursday, or the Bucks could simply rest him — as they’ve already secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Though the Trail Blazers can secure the No. 8 seed with a win on Thursday in their final game, and the Grizzlies have gone just 1-6 so far in Florida, Jenkins isn’t worried about finding motivation for what could be their final game of the year.
"For us we should be motivated by the fact we haven't played up to how good we can play," Jenkins said, via ESPN. "We've had our moments, we've had close games to win. Today is a clear day we didn't play our best. We play hard, we get the looks that we want. We've just got to play better.
"What motivates us is that 1-6 record, that's not good enough for us. We've got a chance against the best team in the league on Thursday and whatever we can throw at 'em, we've got to throw it all on the line and see what happens after that."
Ja Morant led Memphis on Tuesday with 26 points and 13 assists, and was one of six Grizzlies players to score in double figures. Their only lead in the game, however, came right out of the gate, and they quickly fell into a 22-point hole midway through the second quarter.
While they’ve dropped two straight now, and are rapidly running out of time, Morant said the feeling is nothing new.
“I feel like every game we’ve played as the underdog,” Morant said, via ESPN. “We were projected to be 27th this year, and we’re here. So that’s how we’ve been attacking every game, so I feel like our next game will be no different.”
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