Seeding game #7 saw the Memphis Grizzlies face off against the Boston Celtics in Orlando. Coming into the game with a solitary win, the Grizz had been unfortunate pushing the likes of the Spurs (two-point loss) and battling the Trail Blazers all the way to overtime before bowing out.
2020 NBA Playoffs clinching scenarios for today:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) August 11, 2020
MEM - clinches Play-In with a win OR losses by PHX AND SAS
POR - clinches Play-In with a win AND losses by PHX and SAS
PHX - eliminated with a loss AND POR win
SAS - eliminated with a loss and win by EITHER POR OR PHX
Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker scored the first few buckets for Boston and at the other end Jonas Valanciunas displayed the bulk and heft early over Daniel Theis. However it was the Celtics best bubble player Jaylen Brown who took seized the moment finding a seam as the Memphis key was left ajar to unleash a monster one-hander.
Brad Stevens who has been rolling with Robert Williams and Marcus Smart first off the bench in the previous three games, decided to change up things in this one. Grant Williams and Enes Kanter were first off the bench alongside sixth man Marcus. Brandon Clarke and Grayson Allen came from the bench for Memphis and it was the latter tasked with guarding Marcus Smart and the crafty C’s veteran used his guile to draw Allen into a challenge and-1 on the three point line.
Boston Big Man Enes Kanter was bigger and stronger than the entire Grizzlies bench frontcourt unit powering his way to 4 pts and 4 rebs in his 6 minutes through the first quarter, Boston took an early 24-17 lead.
Jayson Tatum (17 first-half points) started strong in the 2nd quarter and at around the 9 minute mark, he suffered a scare as Jonas Valanciunas was switched onto the small forward and came down under his legs on a three-point attempt which was judged a flagrant foul. Tatum’s ankle tweaked on the play, thankfully for he and the team Jayson didn’t leave the court.
The rotations flipped in the second quarter as Robert Williams came on alongside Brad Wanamaker. With Ja Morant sitting on the bench for 3 minutes in the second quarter, the Celtics went on a quick 11-0 run. As he did in previous games Robert Williams altered some shots, got 3 quick blocks and had a loud dunk from a gorgeous fast ball pass from Jaylen Brown.
Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant fueled a good stretch for the Grizz with Rookie Brandon Clarke providing some run as the Celtics got a tad complacent forcing Brad Stevens to burn a timeout. Kemba Walker got into the act for the Celtics scoring 10 quick points and found Gordon Hayward running the break.
Brad Stevens stuck with the starters into the second half and the Celtics proceeded to blow a nineteen point lead as Ja Morant led the Grizz with a three pointer and a floater in the lane, as Memphis went on an 11-0 run. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum played probably more minutes that the team would of liked in the third quarter and fourth as Memphis hung around and made a game of it late.
Brandon Clarke had a decent game providing 15 pts and 6 rebs from the bench and fellow rookie Ja Morant was solid with 26 points, Jonas Valanciunas ended with a double-double.
For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum had another good shooting night with 29 points on, 10-13 from the field including 4-5 from three, Kemba Walker was good in this one with 19 points in an efficient 7-10 from the field, Gordon Hayward was solid again with 19 points with 4-9 from three. Jaylen Brown had a poor shooting night on 3-13 shooting with just 7 pts, 4 rebs. The bench was solid for Boston as Marcus Smart and Enes Kanter chipped in 11 points apiece, with Robert Williams 10 points and Brad Wanamaker, 8 points and 3-4 from the free throw line.
Boston next face Washington on Thursday, it’s assumed the Celtics will rest the core group in that game prior to the start of the playoffs.