Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies liked where they stood when the NBA closed in March.
Now that the NBA has restarted, Morant says it’s unfair that stuffing a Grizzly, built between himself and his closest contenders for the playoffs in the West, may be irrelevant.
“But, you know, we can’t control it,” Moran told ESPN in an interview with The Jump, which aired Thursday. “The only thing we can control is how, you know, we go out and attack each of these games before that decision is made.”
Currently, the Grizzlies are octagonal and lead the 3½ game with three teams. But in the NBA Bubbles format, Memphis would have to be four games ahead when eight games were completed to avoid playing games or games to determine the eighth and final playoff team.
“I just feel like it̵7;s an extra feature,” Morant said when asked if the format could provide the Grizzlies with a chip on their shoulders. “You know – more fuel for the fire, more motivation for us.”
Three of the Grizzlies’ eight games will be against other Western teams battling for last place in the playoffs, starting on Friday, when Memphis will face the Portland Trail Blazers, who are playing 3½ games back. Grizzlies play pelicans on Monday. The Kings are also on 3 ½ games for Memphis.
On Sunday, “Memphis” plays “spurs”, which are already four games back.
The Grizzlies played 17 games when the season closed on March 11.
“Entering the season, I think we predicted 29th place, and look at us now,” Moran told The Jump. “So we just use it as fuel, keep working. We’re all very hungry. We know what we’re capable of. Just go out and play.”
Morant will benefit from another adjustment the NBA has made to reset it, which begins Thursday. Earlier this month, the league said eight seeded games would not count toward post-season awards, essentially ending the awards campaign, including rookie of the year, Moran, who was a big favorite to beat Pelican Zion Williamson, who missed the season after undergoing surgery on knees.
“It definitely feels good,” Moran said. “To date, I can’t say that’s my main focus. You know, I have a few games trying to get to the playoffs. But just where I came from, what I did to get here, is what I passed, of course, honor. I am blessed. “