Grizzlies hope lessons learned last summer will help vs. Spurs in Play-in opener


LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 15: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts after a dunk against the Portland Trail Blazers during the fourth quarter in the Western Conference play-in game one at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 15, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

MEMPHIS — After a COVID condensed 72-game regular season where the Grizzlies outplayed their expectations, they now face not one but two elimination games this week as part of the Play-in portion of the NBA Playoffs beginning Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs.

So it is a good thing the Grizzlies are one of the few teams who have been through this before.

Just last season, when the Play-in was born down in the bubble in Orlando.

The Grizzlies took on the Portland Trail Blazers in a winner gets in/loser heads home series won by Portland.

A learning experience for a young and injury depleted Grizzlie team, but a game that has served as a motivator for the past nine months.

“That game still sits in the back of my mind, thinking of coming close in that play-in tournament,” said Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.  “But like you know, we’re all motivated. Most of our team was with us during that time, so we all know how it felt to play in a game like that and come up short. I feel like we’re extra motivated. We just got to handle business, simple as that.”

“You can’t control injuries, but that was the worst feeling in the world knowing that I couldn’t get out there and help the guys at the most crucial point in the season,” said Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones.  “So, I’m definitely locked in this year ready to help contribute and try to clinch a playoff spot.”

To make the playoffs, the Grizzlies have to beat the Spurs and then win, on the road, against the loser of the game between the Lakers and Warriors.

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