The Play-In Tournament picture is beginning to take shape.
Behind a 46-point, nine-assist performance from Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors secured the eighth seed in the Western Conference with a 113-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. In what felt like a playoff game, the seasoned Warriors outlasted the young Grizzlies, who fall to ninth in the standings.
Here are some takeaways from the buzzer…
1. The eighth seed is locked in
We now know that the Warriors are going to be the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
But their opponent remains to be decided.
Golden State's eyes will shift to tonight's games, as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Denver Nuggets while the Los Angeles Lakers take on the New Orleans Pelicans. If Portland wins, it will be Los Angeles that takes the West's seventh seed, regardless of the result of its game.
If the Lakers win and the Trail Blazers lose, the Warriors will travel to the Moda Center to take on seventh-seeded Portland.
With the loss, Memphis falls to the ninth seed and will host the San Antonio Spurs in the Play-In Tournament.
This year, the Grizzlies earned a 2-1 season series win over the Spurs.
They will need to earn two consecutive wins - one over San Antonio and one over the loser of the Seven-Eight Game to earn the West's eighth seed. In other words, the Grizzlies and Warriors could meet once again later in the week, provided Memphis wins and Golden State loses in the first Play-In.
3. Stephen Curry, two-time scoring champ
With a floater in the opening frame, Curry clinched the second scoring title of his NBA career.
Steph keeps his dribble alive and floats it in to lock up the scoring title for the season!- NBA (@NBA) May 16, 2021
📺: Watch on ESPN
MEM/GSW winner takes #8 in the West. pic.twitter.com/jOLiyoaxHY
Curry, who won his first scoring title in the 2015-16 season, finishes the 2020-21 season averaging 31.8 points per game, edging out Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and ending a three-year run for James Harden.
In capturing scoring title No. 2, Curry joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan as the fourth player ever with multiple scoring titles, multiple MVPs and multiple NBA titles.
The list of players to capture a scoring title after turning 33? Well, that's just Jordan and Curry.
It was only right that Curry wrapped up his season by outdoing his season scoring average … in the second half alone. After scoring 13 points in the first two quarters, Curry erupted for 33 in the second half to finish with 46 points on a career-high 36 field goal attempts and 22 3-point attempts.
BANG! pic.twitter.com/YFVkq8ebdL- Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 16, 2021
Talk about putting a bow on the season.
4. Third-quarter Dubs
During their run of five consecutive NBA Finals appearances, the Warriors earned the reputation of being a team that would blow games open coming out of the halftime break.
This one had some similarities.
After entering the half with a six-point lead, the Warriors outscored the Grizzlies 31-20 in the third to take a 17-point advantage into the final frame. And you can't have a signature Warriors third quarter without a signature Curry moment.
30 PTS (17 in Q3), 5 3PM for Steph! 🤯- NBA (@NBA) May 16, 2021
GSW on top 81-65 on ESPN... winner takes #8 in the West. pic.twitter.com/oWIUBf4nTk
Curry finished with 17 points in the third alone, just three shy of what Memphis put up as a team. Thanks largely to the efforts of Dillon Brooks, the Grizzlies almost fought back in the fourth, but the deficit was too much to overcome, especially after Brooks fouled out with over six minutes remaining in the fourth.
5. Growing pains
For a young team, the Grizzlies have experienced a lot.
Last season, they fell to the Trail Blazers in a Play-In Game at the Walt Disney World Resort to miss the NBA Playoffs altogether. This year, they fall in a play-in before the Play-In, a game that changes the outlook of their playoff possibilities.
A team that's built around two 21-year-olds in Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., it almost feels like these are the necessary bumps along the way for a team that will be atop the Western Conference in the next five years.
In due time, Memphis. In due time.
6. What's next?
We now know one of the two matchups, we're just waiting for times.
On Wednesday (ET), the No. 8 Warriors will travel to take on either the Trail Blazers or Lakers. Given the time zone difference, that game will most likely be preceded by the No. 9 Grizzlies hosting the No. 10 Spurs.
Keep it locked in with NBA.com for more scheduling updates for the Play-In Tournament.
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