After 81 games, there was nothing left for the Memphis Grizzlies to prove this regular season. So on Sunday, a day of rest for churchgoers and some businesses, the Grizzlies followed suit.
Five regular rotation players were ruled out pregame, including Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke were in uniform but didn’t play. There was no chase for a 57th win, which would’ve set a franchise record.
Stopping at 56 wins wasn’t a bad reward. Neither was John Konchar getting his first professional triple-double to the delight of his teammates and coach Taylor Jenkins, who fist-pumped in celebration.
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The Grizzlies 139-110’s loss to the Boston Celtics at FedExForum was a footnote to perhaps the best regular season in franchise history. Now all eyes turn to the playoffs starting this weekend.
The Grizzlies will know exact dates and times for games no later than Tuesday night along with their opponent after the first night of the play-in tournament. After being in last year’s tournament, they could enjoy it this time around as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
“So much growth has happened individually and as a team we’ve taken our standard up a level one year after another,” Jenkins said pregame. “This is the end of the regular season today but we know we’ve got so many bigger goals ahead of us.”
Here’s what we learned as the regular season ended.
John Konchar triple double
John Konchar, who started with De’Anthony Melton, Ziaire Williams, Kyle Anderson and Xavier Tillman, already excited fans Sunday with a first quarter poster dunk. But he had the Grizzlies (56-26) bench thrilled in the fourth while chasing personal glory.
Morant held one finger in the air after Jarrett Culver made a jump shot for Konchar’s ninth assist. With 1:46 left, Konchar got his 10th assist as Yves Pons drained a corner 3-pointer.
The Grizzlies bench raised their hands and Morant jumped up and down repeatedly. Konchar finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists and adding another moment of joy for a close-knit team.
Aldama had a team-high 20 points while Williams added 18 points.
Jayson Tatum hadn’t played in Memphis since 2018 but the St. Louis native drew plenty of cheers most of the night. Credit the large number of Celtics’ fans, supporters from home and those who remember Tatum playing AAU ball with the Memphis Warhawks.
The Celtics All-Star forward had 31 points in three quarters. He dazzled the crowd with a pair of three-pointers before halftime, including one leading to a four-point play. Tatum even had a friendly back-and-forth with Tee Morant sitting courtside and the two dapped each other following Tatum’s final free throw of the half.
Unlike the Grizzlies, the Celtics (51-30) played their regulars since they had a chance to control their playoff fate. They wasted little time taking control and led by as many as 33 points as they clinched the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
On to the playoffs
The Grizzlies, who have homecourt advantage through the first two rounds, will either face the Minnesota Timberwolves or Los Angeles Clippers, who meet in Tuesday’s play-in game (8:30 p.m., TNT).
One might assume Minnesota’s a tougher matchup from splitting the season series. However, the Clippers, who the Grizzlies swept, are still a dangerous, playoff-tested group.
Morant and Dillon Brooks said Saturday it didn’t matter who they face. At this point, what’s more important is the Grizzlies translating regular season success into playoff wins. That will turn a memorable season into something more special.
“We faced both of these teams four times this year so we’ve got a good idea of who we’re playing. Whichever team wins, it’s time to flip the gears and start getting into playoff mode,” Brooks said.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Boston Celtics
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism