Here come the Memphis Grizzlies!
Riding high off their Play-In victory over the Golden State Warriors, the young Grizzlies carried that momentum into Game 1 against the No.1 seed Utah Jazz, eeking out a thrilling 112-109 win in Salt Lake City.
Led by Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant, who combined for 57 points, Memphis clawed their way back from a 14-point first-half deficit to lead by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter, before hanging on for a narrow win.
Brooks and Morant became the first pair of teammates to score 25+ points in their shared playoff debut since Chicago Bulls duo Ben Gordon and Andres Nocioni in 2005.
Let's jump into some key takeaways from tonight's Game 1 thriller.
1. Dillon Brooks leads the way
Canadian Dillon Brooks continued this weekend's theme of breakout playoff performances, recording 31 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks on 13-of-26 shooting.
He becomes just the fourth player in Grizzlies franchise history to score 30+ points in a playoff game, joining Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, per Grizlies PR, with his 31 points the most by a Grizzlies player in their playoff debut.
After the Grizzlies took a 49-43 lead into the half, he took over the third quarter, scoring 14 of his 31 points in the period, knocking down a series of tough off-balance jumpers.
14 in the 3Q for Dillion Brooks.. 29 in the game!@memgrizz 83@utahjazz 74- NBA (@NBA) May 24, 2021
Start of 4Q.. #NBAPlayoffs on TNT pic.twitter.com/I2rPRr37jh
2. Morant shuts the door
If one thing has become clear over the past few weeks, Ja Morant's fearlessness in big moments is only growing with each game,
The 21-year-old scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, including eight straight points down the stretch, capping off his run with this clutch layup with 46 seconds remaining to put the Grizzlies up 110-104.
PLAYOFF 12 YA HEAR ME.- 🙅♂️- Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) May 24, 2021
10 of his 26 points in the 4th quarter. @JaMorant | #GrzNxtGen pic.twitter.com/3Ifd82Tn37
3. Bogdanovic breathes life into Jazz
With their 3-point shots not falling and Donovan Mitchell on the sidelines, the Jazz needed an offensive spark and Bojan Bogdanovic stepped up in the second half, scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter alone.
After going scoreless in the first half, the Serbian sharp-shooter came to life after the break, scoring all 29 of his points in the final 24 minutes on 8-of-13 from the field, 4-of-9 from the 3-point line and 9-of-9 at the free-throw line.
He very nearly tied things up at the buzzer, with his 3-point attempt missing.
4. Jazz can't find shooting touch
The Jazz's 3-point shooting was one of the hallmarks of their regular season as they led the NBA in 3-point makes and attempts and were fourth in 3-point percentage, but they couldn't capture that magic in Game 1.
Against the Grizzlies tonight, they connected on just 12-of-47 (25.5%) from deep - their second-worst mark of the season.
5. Gobert fouls out
The Defensive Player of the Year Finalist struggled with foul trouble all game and eventually fouled out with 4:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. Gobert hadn't fouled out of a game in the entire regular season.
He was limited to just 24 minutes, recording 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting, adding 15 rebounds and three blocks as the Grizzlies outscored the Jazz in the paint 62-42 on the night.
6. Kyle Anderson flexes playoff IQ
In the final minute of the game, Anderson came up with two heads-up plays on the defensive end.
With 6.4 seconds remaining and the Grizzlies in front by three, Anderson fouled Bojan Bogdanovic, sending him to the free-throw line, denying the Jazz a look at a potential game-tying three.
Then on the final possession, with the Grizzlies in front 112-109, Anderson was again guarding Bogdanovic, who expected another foul, but the Grizzlies forward quickly pulled his hands away and left them straight up as the Jazz forward attempted a difficult look from deep.
W. @KyleAnderson5 | #NxtUpMemphis pic.twitter.com/E5CDsLtayf- 🙅♂️- Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) May 24, 2021
On a young Grizzlies squad, the 27-year-old is one of the more experienced players on the roster and that type of in-game management can't be understated in tight games.
Anderson finished with 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and six steals - the most steals ever by a Grizzlies player in a playoff game. The previous record was held by Mike Conley Jr. (2x).
Slow Mo had 6 steals tonight - the most ever by a Griz in a playoff game.- StatMuse (@statmuse) May 24, 2021
Imagine if he was fast. pic.twitter.com/DGNxyK1Ptt
The Grizzlies finished with 12 steals in Game 1, the most they've had in a playoff game since 2011 in the first round against the San Antonio Spurs.
7. Grit 'n Grind rewind?
Speaking of 2011.
The last Western Conference No.8 seed to beat the No.1 seed was...you guessed it the 2011 'Grit and Grind Grizzlies', who upset the San Antonio Spurs (4-2) in the first round.
8. Donovan Mitchell update
The Jazz All-Star guard was a late scratch from Game 1 as he continues to work his way back from a right ankle sprain that kept him on the sidelined for the last 16 games of the regular season.
It's unclear if Mitchell will be available for Game 2, but tonight's loss underscores his importance to the Jazz's offence late in games.
"Hopefully he'll be out there soon," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said pre-game interview. "They'll evaluate him day-to-day."
9. What's next?
The Jazz will look to level the series on their home floor when the two teams square off again in Game 2, set for Wednesday night at 10:00 p.m. ET.
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