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2021 NBA Playoffs: West First Round – (1) Utah Jazz vs (8) Memphis Grizzlies

Where should the money go

West First Round – (1) Utah Jazz vs (8) Memphis Grizzlies – Series preview

(1) Utah Jazz

The BEST team in the NBA at least according to the season standings. The Jazz is a team that has completely not left off from their bubble run. Last year’s West First Round saw them losing a very close Game 7 against the Denver Nuggets. Enter in this season and Rudy Gobert is still a Defensive Player of the Year award candidate and Quin Snyder should be Coach of the Year depending on who you talk to.

They also have potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson who averaged 18.4 points per game in the regular season. This came as the primary first man off the bench for the Jazz and an added scorer next to Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell’s game to me hasn’t taken any kind of extreme improvement and you can tell on paper. However, the best thing is he’s still the Jazz primarily go-to player for a basket. The big moments and big shots are what Mitchell supports on a team that defensively is just really tough. With that being said one of the biggest question marks here is if the Jazz can’t defend the three-point ball. Then they are in trouble. However, does Memphis pose a series three-point threat? Nope. Jazz in 5 at the most.

(8) Memphis Grizzlies

We have to kind of think of this year’s 8th seed as being unique. Technically, in the old NBA rules, the Grizzlies would be sitting at home because they failed to qualify as a top 8 seed in the Western Conference. Their commitment to go out and “steal” the 8th seed from the Golden State Warriors on Friday night gave all the reason in the world we should be ok with the Grizzlies here.

I think it’s time to stop letting the names like Zion Williamson distract us from a guy named Ja Morant. In his short NBA career himself with the Grizzlies he’s kept the franchise close to playoff talk since his Rookie season. Albeit, that was last season the Grizzlies maintained themselves in the 8th seed until the NBA bubble decided otherwise. A little bad faith in losing Jaren Jackson Jr. (who just returned and played 10 regular-season games this season) and the Trailblazers knocking them out of the 8th seed last year makes this year even better.

I’ve advised that younger players in the NBA generally do not make much of an impact early on in their careers and especially prior to the age of 25. However, Ja Morant has me rooting for him to curve that by a year or two, and let’s see the Grizzlies become a contender! Wishful thinking from me but nonetheless this is the best start for Morant’s young career.

Top players to watch

Donovan Mitchell: 2020-2021 season

  • 26.4 PPG
  • 4.4 RPG
  • 5.2 APG

Ja Morant: 2020-2021 season

  • 19.1 PPG
  • 4.0RPG
  • 7.4 APG

Podcasts

Schedule and Results

Game

Away

Home

Date

Time

TV

Results

Game 1:
MEM leads 1-0

5/23/21

9:30 PM EST

TNT

Grizzlies - 112
Jazz - 109

Game 2:
Series tied 1-1

5/26/21

10:00 PM ET

TNT

Grizzlies - 129
Jazz - 141

Game 3:
UTA leads 2-1

5/29/21

9:30 PM ET

ESPN

Jazz - 121
Grizzlies - 111

Game 4:
UTA leads 3-1

5/31/21

9:30 PM ET

TNT

Jazz - 120
Grizzlies - 113

Game 5:
UTA wins series 4-1

6/2/21

9:30 PM ET

NBA TV

Grizzlies - 110
Jazz - 126

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2021 NBA Play-in Tournament: (9) Memphis Grizzlies vs (10) San Antonio Spurs

2021 NBA Play-in Tournament – Game 3 Preview

  • When: May 19, 2021
  • Time: 7:30 PM EST
  • TV: ESPN
  • Where: FedexForum, Memphis, Tennessee

(9) Memphis Grizzlies

There used to be a once upon a time where there were two well-known big men who battled it out between these two teams. However, long gone from the NBA is Tim Duncan and Pau Gasol is playing his best life in Barcelona? Well, the Grizzlies definitely enter this season with a bit of redemption in mind. They lost Jaren Jackson Jr. in the bubble last season.

Furthermore, Memphis was the guinea pig of the Play-in Tournament happened last year between the Grizzlies and the Trailblazers. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies ended up on the bad side of the deal. After holding the 8th seed all season they were overtaken by the Blazers and missed the playoffs. They KNOW what it’s like to be so close but yet a season’s work all down the drain after one loss. The good news is this season is that Jackson Jr. made his return on April 21st, 2021.

The young leader of Memphis is Ja Morant. He is the Grizzlies 2nd pick overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. At age 21 I prefer we give the Grizzlies the benefit of the doubt not to count them out but don’t disappointed in any shortcomings. What I like about Memphis is their ability to defend the ball. A team that hangs out in the top 10 Defensive Team Rating. Ranking next to Milwaukee, Phoenix, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Heat is the benefit of the doubt that they are the easy favorite for this game.

(10) San Antonio Spurs

That good old saying, “never count the Spurs out”, and yet here we are again. First, let’s honor the great Tim Duncan who just recently was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Even more so, the success he brought to San Antonio still lingers on as the Spurs have a chance to return back to the playoffs.

DeMar DeRozan has led the team in scoring all season and the Spurs also cut ties with LaMarcus Aldridge who also retired due to health issues after signing with the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent. The Spurs are truly the team that always flies under the radar. However, is there something impressive about them this season?

That answer to me is a no. They are an average defensive team that allows 50 points in the paint while rated an average defensive team this season. The concern here also is that San Antonio also shoots the three-ball as a team 35-percent on the season. This is the WORSE among teams in the Play-in Tournament. The Grizzlies game plan could be to limit the interior scoring while running and gunning to the basket on the offensive end. Ja Morant getting scoring 8+ points in the paint? I’ll bet on that easy against San Antonio.



Top players to watch

Ja Morant: 2020-2021 Season

  • 19.1 PPG
  • 7.4 APG
  • 4.0 RPG
  • 45% FG

DeMar DeRozan: 2020-2021 Season

  • 21.6 PPG
  • 6.9 APG
  • 4.2 RPG
  • 50% FG

Where should the money go?

Out of the Play-in Tournament games, the Western Conference seems to be the easiest to bet on the favorite picks. I will personally advocate taking the Grizzlies at home here. Memphis has defeated the Spurs two out of the three times these teams faced each other this season.

In the two games, the Grizzlies won their average margin of victory was 24 points. Take that for some food for thought.

Expert Picks

2021 NBA Play-in Tournament Schedule – Western Conference

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Game

Away

Home

Time (EST)

TV

Results

3

10

9

7:30 PM

ESPN

Spurs - 96
Grizzlies - 100

4

8

7

10:00 PM

ESPN

Warriors- 100
Lakers - 103

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Game

Away

Home

Results

6

9

8

Grizzlies - 117
Warriors - 112

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