The Memphis Grizzlies playoff push is in full force as the NBA season hits its final stretch. With 22 games remaining they sit in eighth place in a deep Western Conference. Their loss Friday night to the New York Knicks ended a four-game winning streak. That streak got the Grizzlies to three games above .500 for the first time since early February. It was also their second-longest run of consecutive wins all season.
Memphis Grizzlies Playoff Push in Full Swing
After being on the losing end of the first-ever play-in game during the NBA bubble last summer, this team is on track to get another chance in 2021. They again are in line to participate in the league’s new play-in scenario. Memphis has a two-game lead on ninth-place San Antonio. A finish inside the top 10 of the conference will put them in the play-in battle. The Grizzlies are two and a half games behind the Dallas Mavericks in seventh. They have gone 8-5 in their last 13 games to put themselves in a solid position.
Sense of Urgency
The next few weeks will be crucial to the Grizzlies’ playoff push because of how their schedule sets up. The next three games are at home, against two weaker eastern conference foes in the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, followed by a match-up with the Mavericks. After having a slight cushion above the .500 mark, picking up wins over the next three games is a must before the schedule takes a brutal turn. They would also benefit from gaining a game on the team directly above them.
After the crucial meeting with Dallas, they will face the Bulls again but as the first game of a seven-game road trip. The rest of their road trip will be very unforgiving. The final six games are against teams in the top half of their respective conference. This stretch will make the next few games even more meaningful. The Grizzlies need to take advantage of the next few games at home so they don’t lose the position they’ve gained over the past few weeks.
Inside – Out
A large portion of Memphis’ hopes rests on the shoulders of second-year guard Ja Morant. The rising star controls the game for the Grizzlies. He leads them in points and assists and has increased both those numbers over his Rookie of the Year campaign last season. Morant is a walking highlight. Whether it be his slick ball-handling, fancy passes, or when he explodes to the rim with his athleticism and speed, he is must-see TV for any hoops fan. The South Carolina native is known for his highlight-making ability. However, it’s his vision, instincts, and feel for the game that has him on pace to become one of the best point guards in the NBA. He has to successful one.
While Morant runs the team from the perimeter, their man in the middle is also having a stellar year. Jonas Valanciunas has become a walking double-double during his two-plus seasons in Memphis. He has reached double figures in points and rebounds in 24 of his last 26 games. Valanciunas has scored 16 or more points in each of his last seven games as well. His scoring punch is crucial for a team that sits middle of the pack in the NBA in both points and offensive efficiency. It also helps alleviate some of the pressure on Morant’s shoulders.
Happy Returns Coming for the Grizzlies Playoff Push
The Grizzlies playoff push will get a boost by the end of the month when Jaren Jackson Jr returns from injury. The young forward was rising up the path to stardom himself before being injured in last summer’s bubble. Triple J will bring some much-needed versatility and potency to the Memphis offense. He can create his own shot and stretch the defense. Losing him last season crippled this team’s chance to finish strong and secure a playoff spot. Now he has the chance to return just in time for the final stretch of this campaign and reverse his team’s fortunes from a season ago.
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