Thu Aug 13 11:53pm ET
Milwaukee Bucks guard Frank Mason III, top left, shoots against Memphis Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke, top right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) With their season on the line, Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant teamed up to make history and keep the Memphis Grizzlies' playoff hopes alive.
Valanciunas and Moranth had triple-doubles, Dillon Brooks scored 31 points and the Grizzlies beat the Milwaukee Bucks 119-106 on Thursday to wrap up a spot in the play-in tournament that will determine the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
This marked the first time in franchise history that two Grizzlies had triple-doubles in a game. The team effort helped the Grizzlies bounce back after losing six of their first seven games since the NBA returned from a 4 1/2-month layoff.
''I'm happy that we responded,'' said Valanciunas, who had 26 points, 19 rebounds and 12 assists. ''We showed character. We're not going home. We're going to fight until the last second.''
Dillon Brooks added 31 points as Memphis never trailed while capitalizing on the fact Milwaukee was missing Giannis Antetokounmpo. The reigning MVP was serving a one-game suspension after head-butting Moritz Wagner in a 126-113 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
The Grizzlies (34-39) tied for ninth place in the Western Conference with Phoenix, which beat Dallas 128-102 on Thursday. Memphis advances to the play-in round because it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Phoenix.
Memphis now faces Portland (35-39), which earned a spot in the play-in round by edging the Brooklyn Nets 134-133 on Thursday night.
As the No. 9 team, Memphis must beat Portland two straight times to advance to face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
Memphis hasn't been to the playoffs the last two years after making seven straight postseason appearances from 2011-17.
''It's great to see in a meaningful game that our guys just stuck with it,'' Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. ''We're going to need that on Saturday - even more and more and better and better.''
Valanciunas earned the game ball after getting his first double-double in his 559th career NBA game. The 28-year-old Valanciunas' previous career high in assists was five.
''I'm definitely going to keep that ball for a long time to show my kids that Daddy did it,'' Valanciunas said.
Morant had 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
This marked the first time two teammates posted triple-doubles in the same game since Miami's Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler did it Dec. 10 in a 135-121 overtime victory over Atlanta. Valanciunas and Morant are the 12th pair of teammates to post triple-doubles in the same game, including the postseason.
Brook Lopez scored 19 to lead five Bucks in double figures. Frank Mason had 18, Donte DiVincenzo collected 17, Khris Middleton 14 and D.J. Wilson 12.
This game was meaningless for the Bucks, who already had clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for a second straight season. But it meant everything for the Grizzlies and Jenkins, who was an assistant on Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer's staff last season and previously worked for him in Atlanta.
It was quickly apparent which of these two teams had the most incentive. Memphis led by as many as 23.
''You'd have to be head in the sand really deep to not understand everything that was at stake today,'' Budenholzer said. ''Taylor and his group have done such a great job this year. They earned it. They played well today. They were sharp. Guys really stepped up.''
Bucks: Starting guard Wesley Matthews missed a second straight game with a sore right adductor. Budenholzer remains confident that Matthews will be ready for the playoffs. ''We feel like everything's in a reasonably good place,'' Budenholzer said before the game. ''Probably just smartest not to push it today, give him another day or two. We don't expect it to linger or be a problem past today.''
Grizzlies: Morant ended the regular season averaging 17.8 points and 7.3 assists. The only rookies in NBA history to average at least 17 points and seven assists are Oscar Robertson (1960-61), Magic Johnson (1979-80), Isiah Thomas (1981-82), Damon Stoudamire (1995-96), Allen Iverson (1996-97) and Trae Young (2018-19). ... Valanciunas has collected at least 10 rebounds in seven straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA. ... Memphis was the designated home team. Former Grizzlies Tony Allen and Zach Randolph were included among the team's ''virtual fans'' in the arena.
MIDDLETON JUST SHY OF 50-40-90
Middleton shot 5 of 13 and was just shy of becoming the ninth NBA player to finish a season shooting at least 50% from the floor, 40% from 3-point range and 90% from the foul line. He ended up shooting 49.7% on field-goal attempts, 41.5% on 3-pointers and 91.6% on free throws.
The Bucks will face the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs starting Tuesday. The Bucks swept four regular-season meetings with Orlando.
The Grizzlies move on to the West's play-in tournament.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Dylan Windler (leg) is ready to participate in 5-on-5 workouts. He was a first round pick by the Cavs in 2019, but didn't play in a single game for the team. Windler suffered a leg injury that resulted in surgery, which cost him the entire season. It sounds like he is making progress and getting ready for next year. However, he'll face an uphill battle for minutes after the emergence of Kevin Porter Jr. towards the end of the regular season. Windler could find some minutes in Cleveland next season, but probably won't play enough to warrant drafting in most formats.
Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans decided to sit out the Orlando bubble in order to preserve his health for free agency. Bertans is an upcoming free agent and the Wizards had a slim chance of making the playoffs. He didn't believe it was worth the risk after not playing basketball for almost two months. Bertans sitting out shouldn't hinder his value whatsoever on the free agent market. He'll be a highly coveted player, but the Wizards are likely going to be aggressive to keep him in Washington.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had a three-hour meeting with co-owner Marc Lasry on Saturday. They reportedly discussed the season and how the Bucks can improve their roster. Lasry confirmed that he is willing to go over the luxury tax this offseason. It sounds like the Bucks are trying everything to keep Antetokounmpo happy in Milwaukee. We'll see what happens during the offseason.
Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (ankle) has been ruled out for Tuesday's Game 1 against the Miami Heat. He was listed as doubtful, but it appears Hayward will remain sidelined for this one. Hayward is likely going to need to go through a full practice before being allowed back on the court. The team is hopeful that Hayward will be able to play at some point during this series. It's unclear whether or not he'll be limited when he does return. Fantasy owners should keep an eye out for updates. In the meantime, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart will benefit with increased playing time.
Boston Celtics guard Javonte Green (knee) is listed as doubtful for Game 1 against the Miami Heat on Tuesday. He left the bubble in August to undergo an arthroscopic procedure to repair a small meniscal tear in his right knee. Green hasn't been able to play since then, but is surprisingly not listed as out here. Listing him as doubtful is actually an upgrade for Green. Regardless, Green won't have a big enough role in the rotation to do any damage in DFS lineups.
Houston Rockets forward Danuel House (personal) could miss the rest of the playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA is currently doing an investigation on House allegedly sneaking a female into the bubble. It doesn't sound like he'll get back on the court until the NBA makes their decision. That means, Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, and Ben McLemore will see more playing time coming their way.
Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (ankle) is back in the bubble and expected to clear quarantine on Friday. However, he is still not close to getting back on the court after suffering a Grade 3 ankle sprain in mid-August. The hope is that Hayward could return at some point next series, assuming the Celtics advance. Until then, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown will continue to have increased value.
Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (foot) has been cleared to begin doing 5-on-5 workouts. The Hawks are expected to begin group workouts in the end of September, so Capela should be taking part in that. He was traded to Atlanta mid-season, but has not played a game for them yet due to a plantar fasciitis issue. He is fully expected to be ready for the 2020-2021 season. It'll be interesting to see what kind of fantasy value he produces alongside John Collins.
Charlotte Hornets forward Nicolas Batum is expected to pick up his $27 million player option for next season. It is far more than he'd get in free agency, so there's no reason for him not to accept the deal. It's the final year of his contract, so the Hornets are likely going to attempt to move Batum. Sadly, it's going to be difficult to find a trade partner when he's owed that much money. The Hornets are likely going to be stuck with Batum for at least one more season.
Houston Rockets forward Danuel House (personal) was unable to suit up for Tuesday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He is dealing with a personal issue, so it's unclear if he'll suit up next game. Robert Covington (face), Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, and Ben McLemore would benefit if House is out. Covington is the best fantasy option out of the bunch.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Marvin Williams has decided to retire from the NBA. The 34-year-old is walking away from the game after 15 productive seasons in the league. "I've been very blessed. God has been very, very good to me," Williams said. He was unable to win a championship before retiring, but put up fairly solid career numbers. Williams averaged 10.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists during his NBA career. He won't make the Hall of Fame, but he had a productive career nonetheless.
Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington (face) is expected to be available for Game 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers. It doesn't sound like his nose is broken and Covington was able to pass the concussion protocol. Danuel House (personal) is questionable for Game 4, which could mean big minutes for Covington. Fantasy owners should check back for another update.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Dion Waiters (groin) is listed as doubtful for Tuesday's Game 3 matchup versus the Houston Rockets. He has played a total of eight minutes in this series, so losing Waiters won't hurt too much. Rajon Rondo looked fantastic last game and would probably take most of his minutes anyway. Rondo could be a sneaky DFS option for Tuesday's slate.
Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (hip) has been downgraded to questionable for Tuesday's Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks. He was listed as probable, but it appears he has a slight downgrade now. It doesn't sound like anything serious, but fantasy owners should check back closer to tip-off just in case. Andre Iguodala and Kendrick Nunn would benefit if Herro is unable to suit up.
Miami Heat forward Kelly Olynyk (knee) is listed as questionable for Tuesday's Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks. He was listed as questionable last game and only ended up playing 10 minutes. It sounds like Olynyk is a risky DFS option even if he does suit up for this one. Andre Iguodala would likely benefit the most if Olynyk is unable to play. Fantasy owners should check back closer to tip-off.
Miami Heat forward Jae Crowder (ankle) is listed as questionable for Tuesday's Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Heat are a little banged up right now, so losing Crowder would hurt. Andre Iguodala would likely benefit the most if Crowder is out, but Kendrick Nunn and Derrick Jones could see more chances as well. Iguodala would be the best fantasy option there if Crowder sits out.
Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka (ankle) was seen wearing a walking boot during the media session on Tuesday. He tweaked his left ankle during Game 5 and it's unclear if he'll be available for Wednesday's contest. Ibaka was able to play through the issue, but it appears to be worse now. Chris Boucher and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson would split up the minutes if Ibaka is unable to play. Fantasy owners should check back on Wednesday for more information.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) was seen wearing a walking boot while arriving to the arena for Tuesday's Game 5 against the Miami Heat. He is currently listed as questionable, so there probably won't be a better update until closer to tip-off. Khris Middleton would see his usage skyrocket if Antetokounmpo is unable to suit up. Donte Divincenzo would likely enter the starting five and could be a nice DFS option. Fantasy owners should check back closer to tip-off.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (wrist) will start in Monday's Game 3 matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. He played well during Game 2, but suffered a right wrist sprain along the way. Jokic was a game-time decision heading into this one, but it appears that he's good to play. It doesn't sound like the Nuggets have any plans to limit him, so DFS players can plug him into their lineups for Monday.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (wrist) is listed as questionable for Monday's Game 3 matchup versus the Los Angeles Clippers. Jokic played fantastic during Game 2, but sprained his wrist in the process. It doesn't sound like something that is going to sideline him, but fantasy owners should check back just in case. Mason Plumlee and Bol Bol would be asked to play more if Jokic sits out. Plumlee would probably be the safer fantasy option between the two.