The Grizzlies Secured A Play-In Spot With A Win Over The Bucks

The Memphis Grizzlies will have a chance to play for a playoff spot this weekend thanks to a resounding 119-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday afternoon in Orlando.

Jonas Valanciunas dominated as he notched his first career triple-double with 26 points, 19 rebounds, and 12 assists (more than doubling his previous career-high) in 33 minutes, while Rookie of the Year frontrunner Ja Morant chipped in a triple-double of his own with 12 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds to pull the young Grizzlies into postseason contention once again.

Despite an 0-4 start to the bubble and the loss of Jaren Jackson Jr. to a knee injury, Memphis managed to make it to the play-in series with a pair of wins in their final four games. Memphis always looked to have the toughest path in terms of schedule, but their finale being against Milwaukee may have actually played into their hands. The Bucks, without a suspended Giannis (who may have sat out, anyway), didn’t play any of their main rotation pieces more than 21 minutes, as Mike Budenholzer went deep into his bench against former assistant Taylor Jenkins.

The most intrigue for the Bucks was Khris Middleton’s 50/40/90 season hanging in the balance, as he needed two more makes than misses to find himself in the exclusive club. The All-Star got off to a sluggish start and finished with just 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting in 21 minutes, falling just shy of shooting 50 percent from the field on the season.

Memphis — and Phoenix, which won its final game to move to 8-0 in the bubble — will now be watching with great interest to see if the Blazers can beat the Nets on Thursday night. A Portland win means they take the 8-seed and Memphis will have to beat them twice this weekend. A Portland loss means Memphis is the 8-seed by virtue of a tiebreaker with Phoenix, and the Suns would need to move to 10-0 in the bubble by beating the Grizzlies twice. The expectation is that Portland will cruise to a win, but Memphis’ opponent today knows all too well what underestimating the shorthanded Nets can lead to.

The other team in the mix was the Spurs, but by virtue of the Suns and Grizzlies winning, and both teams owning a tiebreaker over San Antonio, no matter what they did against Utah their 22-year playoff streak would indeed be coming to an end — thus putting a halt to the longest streak in American pro sports.

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