NBA playoff tracker: Grizzlies stay hot, stun top-seeded Jazz in playoff opener

·8-min read

Welcome to the Yahoo Sports NBA playoff tracker, your daily one-stop shop for all the latest game results from each NBA playoff series. Here's a look at Sunday's games.

Dillon Brooks did the heavy lifting early. Then Ja Morant closed the deal as the Memphis Grizzlies secured a 112-109 upset of the Utah Jazz on Sunday.

With the win, the No. 8 seed Grizzlies took a 1-0 series over a top-seeded Jazz team that posted the NBA's best record during the regular season. Bojan Bogdanovic did his best to shoot Utah back in the game late, but the Jazz rally fell short as they played without All-Star Donovan Mitchell. 

Jazz struggle on offense minus Mitchell

Utah opened strong, riding its third-ranked defense to a 24-17 first-quarter lead. But as the Grizzlies found their rhythm, Utah's normally potent offense went cold without Mitchell, and Memphis closed the first half on a 17-2 run.

Brooks led the surge en route to 31 points and seven rebounds as Memphis extended a 49-43 halftime edge to as much a 97-82 midway through the fourth quarter. A Jazz team that led the league with 16.7 3-pointers per game struggled to find its shot with its leading scorer in street clothes. For the game, Utah shot 12 of 47 (25.5%) from 3-point distance and 42% from the field.

May 23, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA;  Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) looks to block the shot of Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) during the second quarter at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Ja Morant scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter. (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)

The Grizzlies didn't run away with the game thanks to a surging Bogdanovic, who finished with 29 points after going scoreless in the first half. But Morant countered for Memphis, scoring 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter.

The Jazz had a chance to tie the game late with the ball in Bogdonavic's hands trailing 110-107 in the final 10 seconds. But Memphis wisely fouled Bogdonavic on the floor before he had a chance to connect on his fifth 3-pointer of the half. He hit both free throws, but Brooks found a wide open layup on the other end to secure the final margin as Rudy Gobert watched from the bench after fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

It was a disappointing start to the playoffs for the Jazz, who played in front of a home crowd of more than 13,000 fans allowed inside Vivint Arena amid loosening COVID-19 restrictions. 

Will Donovan Mitchell be ready for Game 2?

The pregame news of Mitchell's scratch was also a letdown after Mitchell declared himself "ready to go" from a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for the final 16 games of the regular season. Utah's medical staff disagreed, and held him out. He remains day-to-day with Game 2 scheduled for Wednesday amid a heightened sense of urgency.

For Memphis, it was another confidence-building win after beating the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament just to secure their spot in the playoffs. The Grizzlies have now won eight out of 10 games dating back to the regular season.

Hawks-Knicks (Knicks lead, 1-0)

Trae Young silences raucous MSG crowd with winner

Madison Square Garden gave the Atlanta Hawks a raucous New York welcome on Sunday. But the young Hawks weren't fazed. 

Making his NBA playoff debut, Trae Young paced the Hawks in a 107-105 thriller to take a 1-0 series lead. The 22-year-old All-Star led Atlanta with 32 points, including a winning floater in the final second that spoiled New York's first playoff game since 2013.

Trae Young outduels Alec Burks, outplays Julius Randle

Young's winner capped a frantic fourth quarter that saw a lead change or a tie eight times in the final four minutes. While Julius Randle struggled from the field, reserve Alec Burks exploded off the bench to lead the Knicks with 27 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter.

But Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic repeatedly found answers for Burks' blows to give the fifth-seeded Hawks the early series advantage over the No. 4 seed Knicks. 

Young finished with 10 assists and seven rebounds to go with his 32 points as Bogdanovic scored 18 points while hitting 4 of 9 3-point attempts. Two of those made Bogdanovic threes connected in the frenzied final four minutes of the fourth quarter. 

Trae Young capped a stellar NBA playoff debut with a winner against the Knicks. (Seth Wenig - Pool/Getty Images)
Trae Young capped a stellar NBA playoff debut with a winner against the Knicks. (Seth Wenig - Pool/Getty Images)

The game marked a disappointing playoff debut for Randle, who played in his first postseason game since joining the NBA in 2014. The Knicks All-Star tallied 15 points and 12 rebounds, but struggled from the field with a 6-of-23 effort. RJ Barrett was the only other Knicks starter to score in double figures with 14 points alongside 11 rebounds.

The game was played in front of a Knicks home crowd of 15,000 fans, the largest in the NBA since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans will surely show up for Wednesday's Game 2 with an added sense of urgency as their Knicks face the prospect of digging an 0-2 playoff hole at home.  

Suns-Lakers (Suns lead, 1-0)

Young Suns lead Game 1 win over Lakers

In a game filled with NBA playoff veterans and future Hall of Famers, a pair of young Phoenix Suns making their postseason debuts were the best players on the floor Sunday. 

Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton outplayed LeBron James and Anthony Davis while leading Phoenix to a 99-90 Game 1 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. They did so as Chris Paul struggled through a shoulder contusion that forced him to leave the court on multiple occasions.

The Suns took charge early with a 32-25 lead after the first quarter. They never let their foot off the gas, controlling the game the entire way while quelling concerns that the first-round matchup against the defending champion Lakers would be too much for a young team with little playoff experience.

Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton lead the charge

Booker led the charge, tallying 34 points, eight assists and seven rebounds while shooting 13 of 26 from the field. He scored 10 straight Suns points in a second-half stretch that extended Phoenix's lead to 86-70 early in the fourth quarter.

Ayton, meanwhile, tallied 21 points and 16 rebounds while controlling the paint. He connected on 10 of 11 field-goal attempts and outplayed and frustrated Anthony Davis the entire game.  

Devin Booker did not back down in his playoff debut against LeBron James. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Devin Booker did not back down in his playoff debut against LeBron James. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Anthony Davis no match for Ayton

Davis finished with 13 points and seven rebounds while connecting on 5 of 16 field-goal attempts. James led the Lakers with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Neither looked like the players who led the Lakers to a championship in the NBA bubble last summer.

Phoenix won despite the Lakers holding a significant edge at the free-throw line. Los Angeles went to the line 28 times, while Phoenix shot just 12 free throws playing in front of its home crowd. But the Suns (83.3%) outperformed the Lakers (60.7%) once they got to the stripe, like they did in almost every facet of the game. 

The Sun also bested the Lakers from the field (46.5% to 43.4%) and 3-point distance (32.1% to 26.9%) while outrebounding the reigning champions 47 to 33. They did so while veteran leader Paul struggled through injury in a seven-point, eight-assist effort. Paul was able to finish the game, but was clearly affected by his injury. He told reporters after the game he'll "absolutely" be ready for Game 2.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Tuesday night. 

76ers-Wizards (76ers lead, 1-0)

Tobias Harris steps up for Sixers in Game 1 win

With MVP and Defensive Player of the Year finalist Joel Embiid in foul trouble for much of the first half, Tobias Harris assumed the offensive burden for the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, scoring 28 of his playoff career-high 37 points to win Game 1 of their first-round series against the Washington Wizards, 125-118.

Embiid picked up his third personal foul opposite starting Wizards center Alex Len five minutes into the second quarter. The Sixers superstar still finished with 30 points and six rebounds in less than 30 minutes. Philadelphia's Ben Simmons scored just six points on nine shots, but added 15 assists and 15 rebounds.

On the floor-spacing strength of Seth Curry and Danny Green, the Sixers unleashed an 18-6 run in less than three minutes midway through the third quarter to turn a five-point deficit into a seven-point lead they controlled the rest of the way. Curry and Green, acquired in the offseason for this very reason, combined for 26 points. Fellow Philadelphia newcomers George Hill and Dwight Howard added 18 points off the bench.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 33 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Russell Westbrook added 16 points, 15 assists and five rebounds for Washington. The two All-Star guards for the Eastern Conference's eighth seed proved they will not go easy, going into Philadelphia and hanging with the rested Sixers until the final minute, despite Beal's ailing hamstring and a pair of hard-fought play-in games this past week.

Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. on NBATV.

Philadelphia's Tobias Harris shoots under Washington's Alex Len during the first game of the Eastern Conference first-round series at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on May 23, 2021. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Philadelphia's Tobias Harris shoots under Washington's Alex Len during the first game of the Eastern Conference first-round series at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on May 23, 2021. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

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