Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies liked where they were staying in the NBA in March.
Now with the NBA restart, Morant says he thinks it’s unfair that the padding of the Grizzlies built between them and the nearest playoff contenders in the West could be irrelevant.
“But, you know, we can’t control that,” Morant said in an interview on ESPN’s The Jump 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.”
The Grizzlies are currently the 8th seed and have a 3 vantaġġ game advantage over three teams. But in the NBA balloon format, Memphis will have 4½ games ahead when all eight games are kept complete to avoid a play-in game or games that determine the eighth and final playoff team.
“I just feel like it’s an extra chip,” Morant said, when asked if the format could provide the Grizzlies with a chip on their shoulder. “You know ̵1; more fuel for the fire, more motivation for us.”
Three of the Grizzlies ’eight games will be against the other Western teams fighting for last place in the playoffs starting Friday, when Memphis faces the Portland Trail Blazers, which are 3½ games back. The Grizzlies play the Pelicans on Monday. The Kings are also 3½ games after Memphis.
On Sunday, Memphis plays the Spurs, who are four games behind.
The Grizzlies had 17 games to play when the season closed on March 11th.
“Coming up the season, I think we were projected to be 29, and look at us now,” Morant said on The Jump. “So we use that fuel, we keep working. We’re all hungry. We know from what we’re capable of. Come out and play.”
Morant will benefit from another adjustment the NBA has made to resume, starting Thursday. Earlier this month, the league said the eight seeding games are not counted for the postseason awards, essentially ending the awards campaigns, including Rookie of the Year, which Morant he was a strong favorite to win over Pelion’s Zion Williamson, who missed much of the season after undergoing knee surgery.
“It definitely feels good,” Morant said. “As of now, I can’t say that’s my main focus. You know, I have some games to play, I try to make the playoffs. But exactly where I came from, what I did to get here, the things I went through, definitely honor. I’m blessed. “