The wait is over.
The No. 1 Utah Jazz will be taking on the Memphis Grizzlies in the opening round of the NBA playoffs.
For the past five days, since the regular season ended, the Jazz have been awaiting the results of the play-in tournament to learn who their first-round playoff opponent would be, and the results are not what anyone thought they would be.
NBA playoffs first round: (1) Utah Jazz vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies
- Game 1: Grizzlies at Jazz, Sun., May 23, 7:30 p.m. MDT
- Game 2: Grizzlies at Jazz, Wed., May 26, 8 p.m.
- Game 3: Jazz at Grizzlies, Sat., May 29, 7:30 p.m.
- Game 4: Jazz at Grizzlies, Mon., May 31, 7:30 p.m.
- Game 5*: Grizzlies at Jazz, Wed., June 2, TBD
- Game 6*: Jazz at Grizzlies, Fri., June 4, TBD
- Game 7*: Grizzlies at Jazz, Sun., June 6, TBD
* if necessary
With a 117-112 win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night in overtime, in a game that they were never expected to win, the Grizzlies locked up the 8th and final seed in the Western Conference, setting up a first-round matchup against the Jazz.
After finishing the regular season with the league’s best record, the Jazz will have home court advantage throughout the playoffs and will host Games 1 and 2 at Vivint Arena on Sunday and Wednesday, respectively.
Coming into the NBA play-in tournament as the No. 9 seed, the Grizzlies were widely expected to fall to whoever they would play in the second play-in game. But with an upset win, bouncing the Warriors from playoff contention, Memphis will be demanding a lot more respect heading into the postseason.
The Jazz won the regular season series against the Grizzlies, 3-0, with all three games played over a six-day span in March. Their third and final meeting of the season came the day after the Jazz had to make an emergency landing when their flight to Memphis hit a flock of birds on take off, damaging the plane’s left engine.
Under duress, lacking sleep and playing without Donovan Mitchell, who stayed behind after the traumatic flight ordeal, the Jazz were still able to beat the Grizzlies, which should give the Jazz confidence heading into a seven-game series.
The Grizzlies are a talented young team led by the explosiveness of last year’s Rookie of the Year Ja Morant and buoyed by the versatility of Jaren Jackson Jr., the defensive of Dillon Brooks and the physicality of Jonas Valanciunas.
Though the Grizzlies are inexperienced and would be underdogs in any playoff series, they are not an opponent to underestimate. At this point the Grizzlies have exceeded expectations just by beating the Warriors so they’ll be playing with nothing to lose and putting everything on the line.
The Jazz will be going into the series with a rest advantage, with the Grizzlies coming off two pressure-filled and tiring games against the San Antonio Spurs and Warriors in the play-in tournament and must be ready to play at altitude on Sunday.
While the Jazz have had to wait to find out who their opponent is, their preparation has been ongoing for a long time and Saturday will be a chance for them to entirely focus on the upcoming matchup. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, will have to travel to Salt Lake City on Saturday with little time to switch from fighting for a playoff spot to preparing for Utah.
The playoffs are here.