|1:00 PM PT2:00 PM MT3:00 PM CT4:00 PM ET20:00 GMT4:00 1:00 PM MST3:00 PM EST0:00 UAE (+1)22:0016:00 ET3:00 PM CT19:00 , August 13, 2020
Visa Athletic Center, Reunion, Florida
Grizzlies eye play-in berth in finale vs. Bucks
Milwaukee Bucks at Memphis Grizzlies
- Milwaukee has won four of their last five games against the Grizzlies, including a 127-114 road win in December. The Bucks have swept the season series against Memphis just once since 2009-10, doing so in the 2017-18 campaign.
- A win over Memphis would give Milwaukee a 57-16 record this season (.781), which would be their second-highest winning percentage in franchise history (66-16, .805 in 1970-71). The Bucks went on to win their only NBA championship in that 1970-71 season.
- Memphis is 1-6 in the bubble and could fail to even qualify for the Play-In game if results don't go their way on Thursday. The Grizzlies haven't been outside of the top nine in the Western Conference standings since January 4 (11th -- 14-22).
- Giannis Antetokounmpo shot 10-for-12 from the foul line in 10 minutes before being ejected against the Wizards on Tuesday. He's the first player to take more than 10 foul shots in a game in which he played 10 minutes or fewer since Tony Farmer for the Warriors against the Suns on December 26, 1999.
- Ja Morant scored 26 points in Memphis' loss to Boston on Tuesday, the most he's scored in a game in the bubble. Morant now has 11 games of at least 25 points, most among rookies in the NBA this season.
- The Grizzlies have led the NBA in paint scoring this season, averaging 55.9 per game while the Bucks hold opponents to a league-low 38.4 paint points per game. In the first meeting between the teams this season Milwaukee was +28 (54-26) in the paint, holding Memphis to eight fewer points than they scored in the paint in any other game all season.
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The Memphis Grizzlies will be first on the tee when the Western Conference holds a glorified elimination day Thursday in the NBA bubble near Orlando.
The Grizzlies (33-39) will take the court in the early afternoon against the Milwaukee Bucks in the regular-season finale holding ninth place in the West, a half-game behind Portland (34-39), technically tied with -- but holding a tie-breaker advantage over -- Phoenix (33-39), and percentage points up on San Antonio (32-38).
Seeking to end a two-year playoff drought, Memphis can move ahead of Portland with a win over the Bucks and a Trail Blazers loss to Brooklyn in a late-night game.
The eighth- and ninth-place finishers in the West will battle this weekend in a one- or two-game play-in series on Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday. The eighth-place finisher must win only one game, while the ninth-place finisher must win both. The winner of the play-in will face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the traditional first round of the playoffs.
The Grizzlies can earn an invitation to the play-in series in the ninth position even with a loss, if both the Suns and Spurs also lose on Thursday. Phoenix plays Dallas at the same time as the Memphis-Milwaukee contest, while San Antonio will face Utah in the early evening.
Milwaukee (56-16), meanwhile, has clinched the No. 1 seed in the East and will meet Orlando in the first round of the playoffs, which start on Monday.
The Bucks beat the Grizzlies 127-114 at Memphis in December in their only previous meeting this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 37 points in the win, but was outscored by the Grizzlies' Jaren Jackson Jr., who exploded for 43.
Jackson tore meniscus in his left knee earlier in the bubble and is out for the season.
The Grizzlies have not responded well, going 1-6 in Florida to fall out of the coveted eighth playoff position.
Grayson Allen, who has picked up the scoring slack in Jackson's absence with 14.3 points per game in the bubble, knows the six losses mean nothing if Memphis can beat the Bucks.
"You know you're in the now-or-never, do-or-die mindset," Allen told reporters. "There's not much that you can say about it. Everyone understands it; everyone will feel it."
The Grizzlies will not see Antetokounmpo in the must-win game.
Antetokounmpo received a one-game suspension after he head-butted Washington's Moe Wagner following an offensive foul and verbal exchange in Tuesday's 126-113 win.
The Most Valuable Player candidate was ejected from the game. He will be eligible to return for the start of the playoffs next week.
Antetokounmpo was apologetic after the game.
"If I could go back, turn back time and go back to that play, I wouldn't do it," he said of making physical contact with Wagner. "But at the end of the day, we're all human; we all make mistakes. At the end of the day, you learn from it, keep playing good basketball and keep moving forward."
It is likely the Bucks would have rested their star anyway in a meaningless game (for them) on the eve of the playoffs.
Antetokounmpo has missed nine games this season, with the Bucks going 5-4 in those contests.
Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins knows Milwaukee well, having worked as an assistant to Mike Budenholzer for the Bucks last season.
--Field Level Media
Updated August 12, 2020