Minutes after Memphis’ reserves secured a one-point win over a team that won’t be in the play-in tournament, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins noted the “big game on Sunday.”
Well, that Sunday is here and Memphis has an afternoon (2:30 p.m. CDT) showdown on the road against the Golden State Warriors, featuring Steph Curry, a sure-fire Hall of Fame inductee.
“This is the time of year where you’re hopefully – we’ve been talking about it the last couple days – playing your best basketball. Really proud of the efforts our guys have been giving over the last week plus.”
Memphis rides a five-game winning streak into a game that earns the winner two chances to advance to the eight-team Western Conference Playoffs. At 38-33, the Grizzlies are at their highest point above .500 this season and face a team that most national media already has penciled in as the winner.
Anticipating the big-stakes match-up against Golden State, Jenkins rested Memphis’ starters against the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Still, the Grizzlies were a six-point favorite but the Kings’ players that took the court were not phased.
Battling to the wire, Memphis won 107-106, making for back-to-back wins against the Kings at FedExForum to close out the regular season’s slate of home games. The Kings (31-40) were eliminated from the play-in tournament with the Thursday loss to the Grizzlies and also did not play many of their starters.
The Grizzlies’ Justice Winslow took advantage of the additional playing time, leading Memphis with 25 points, including four from deep, and grabbing 13 rebounds. It was his first double-double of the season.
Killian Tillie, who got his first career start, had career highs in points (16) and minutes (38).
“I was very happy, very excited to play a lot of minutes tonight. I was just excited to try and get a win.”
Jenkins pointed to the reserves’ effort with pride.
“These guys took full advantage of the opportunity … guys playing different roles, guys that have been out of the rotation in and out. It’s just a product and a credit to all the work that they put in. … there’s a togetherness about this team.”
NOTE: The Grizzlies-Warriors showdown for the pivotal eighth spot going into the play-in tournament will be shown on ESPN.
BONUS: A photo look back at Memphis’ Thursday night win