NBA

'We treat it as zero-zero' – Morant explains Grizzlies' comeback mentality after series win

By Sports Desk April 30, 2022

The Memphis Grizzlies are "always confident no matter what the score is", Ja Morant explained after another comeback sent them through in the NBA playoffs.

All-Star Morant won his first playoff series as he helped the Grizzlies overturn the Minnesota Timberwolves' fourth-quarter lead in Game 6 on Friday and win 114-106.

That victory sends the Grizzlies into the Western Conference semi-finals – the first time they have reached that stage since 2015 – and sets up a series against the Golden State Warriors, which will start on Sunday in Tennessee.

It was the third time in their series against the Timberwolves that the Grizzlies had to overcome a double-digit deficit in the final quarter.

"The series was a battle," said Morant, who had a double-double of 17 points and 11 assists, complemented by eight rebounds.

"We knew that every game would be a dogfight. Coming in we knew, with this team, we wouldn't win this series in one game.

"We knew that every game would be a dogfight, that we had to come in locked in and bring our energy from the start. Obviously, the wins were pretty ugly outside of Game 2, but we got it done.

"I feel like we're always confident no matter what the score is. We treat it pretty much as zero-zero.

"We've been down double-digits plenty of times and came back and won. We know the game is not over until there are zeros on the scoreboard at the end of the fourth quarter."

While Morant is confident in Memphis' comeback abilities, team-mate Dillon Brooks insisted it is not by design.

"I wish we had better starts," said Brooks, who along with Morant danced on the Timberwolves' logo after sealing Memphis' progression.

"We don't want to put ourselves in that predicament, but we always find a way to fight.

"Like coach [Taylor Jenkins] said in the locker room, 'There's not one way to win in the NBA playoffs'. There are a lot of ways to win and we just figured out one way."

Morant has had a brilliant campaign though was kept relatively quiet across the series as a whole in his first postseason appearance. However, support came from Desmond Bane.

"If you ask me, the MVP of this series is this guy right here," Morant said while sitting with Bane at a news conference.

"Time and time again, he came up big-time. He hit some big-time shots for us, even kept us in the game, and gave us a lead."

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  • Heat's Erik Spoelstra looking forward to 'throwback' Eastern Conference Finals Heat's Erik Spoelstra looking forward to 'throwback' Eastern Conference Finals

    Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Eastern Conference Finals will be an old-school defensive slugfest, and that he feels the best two teams made it.

    The Heat needed six games to triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Boston Celtics came back from 3-2 down against the Milwaukee Bucks to get the job done in Game 7.

    As a reward for getting their series out of the way early, the Heat will have five days of rest before Tuesday's Game 1, while the Celtics have just one proper rest day between series.

    Speaking to the media after Monday's practice, Spoelstra said it is shaping up as a series that will warm the heart of Heat president Pat Riley.

    "Pat's [Riley] probably is going to enjoy this," he said. "This is like a throwback series. 

    "If both teams are really on top of their games, this should be a series where neither team is scoring 130 points. Both teams hang their hats on rock-solid team defense, and making multiple efforts and being disciplined to schemes. 

    "So it will be a lot of plays and things in the margins… really, we were the two best teams in the East most of the season and it's fitting that we're moving into the conference finals.

    "Boston has played as well as anyone in the entire league once they got to 2022. It's not by accident. They're playing very strong basketball. They do it on both ends."

    Heat star Jimmy Butler was asked about his potential matchup against Jayson Tatum, and he had nothing but praise for the Celtics' best player.

    "He's one of the best in the game right now," he said. "As much attention as he draws on the offensive end – and then I think what's really impressive is the way that he's picked up his defensive intensity. 

    "You got to tip your hat to that and respect him, I think those are the guys that you want to go up against."

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