Nuggets chasing playoff close against Grizzlies | Radio WGN 720
The Memphis Grizzlies know their playoff seed, they just have to wait and see who they play against.
The fate of the Denver Nuggets is still up in the air after another home disappointment.
Memphis (55-24) is locked in the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and won’t know who he’ll face in the first round until the qualifying tournament begins. The fact that it could be the Nuggets is a bit surprising.
Denver (47-33) had a chance to clinch at least the No. 6 seed with a home win over San Antonio on Tuesday night, but was eliminated by the Spurs. The Nuggets need a win in one of their final two games to avoid the Qualifying Tournament, and they can end the drama when they host the Grizzlies on Thursday night.
Minnesota’s loss at home earlier in the night on Tuesday gave Denver a chance to clinch a playoff berth as the conference’s top-six team, but they trailed by 21 in the first half. against San Antonio and never recovered in a 116-97 loss.
“It’s a bad loss for us,” said Aaron Gordon, one of only two Denver players to score in double figures with 18 points. “We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunity that came our way and it’s frustrating, but we know we have two games left. We are focusing on that right now.
The Nuggets have moved forward this season without their second- and third-best players. Jamal Murray did not play after ACL surgery and Michael Porter Jr. missed most of the season after back surgery. It doesn’t look like either will return for the final two games of the season.
Memphis has played without its best player, Ja Morant, since mid-March but continues to roll. The Grizzlies had won 11 of 12 games before losing in overtime to Utah 121-115 on Tuesday night. Their last three games don’t make sense in the standings, but they have a chance to surpass the franchise record of 56 wins set in the 2012-13 season.
Memphis came close to winning Tuesday despite missing either Morant or Dillon Brooks (right hip pain) against a Jazz team that needed a win to clinch a playoff berth. Jaren Jackson Jr. had 28 points and three blocks to set the franchise single-season record with 172.
Jackson leads the NBA in bulk.
Morant leads the team in points (27.6 per game) and assists (6.7), but the Grizzlies showed depth in their roster, as the Nuggets know. Memphis has won the first three meetings between the teams and can copy San Antonio’s game plan starting Tuesday.
Spurs failed to pass Nikola Jokic, and although he had 41 points and 17 rebounds, everyone was kept in check. The Grizzlies have been solid defensively against a strong offensive team in Utah and can build on this Thursday night.
“The resilience was good,” Jackson said after the overtime loss. “I pushed him to overtime. We were good defensively. Offensively (it was) random, but it’s a good team.
Morant or Brooks are unlikely to play Denver — a possible second-round opponent — and Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins may choose to rest the other players. The Nuggets don’t have that luxury and could be without Jeff Green for a third straight game.
Green left Friday’s loss to the Timberwolves for personal reasons and did not return.
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