After head-butting Wizards big man Moritz Wagner yesterday, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has been suspended by the NBA for the team’s regular season finale tomorrow against the Grizzlies, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).
Antetokounmpo, the likely 2019/20 NBA MVP, head-butted Wagner with 8:50 left to play in the game’s second quarter. He was immediately ejected, with a suspension for his conduct seemingly inevitable. The Bucks would go on to tally a win anyway. Milwaukee’s 126-113 victory marked the Wizards’ seventh consecutive loss in Orlando. Washington is currently winless during the NBA restart.
The 56-16 Bucks have the best record in the NBA, and have clinched the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. But the result of Thursday’s game could have significant implications for other teams.
The 33-39 Grizzlies will almost certainly need to win their bout against the Bucks to qualify for this weekend’s play-in tournament between the West’s eighth and ninth seeds, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN notes (Twitter link). Memphis could also clinch a play-in tournament appearance if both the 33-39 Suns and 32-38 Spurs lose their final seeding games, as Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Given how hot those teams have been though, the Grizzlies can’t afford to count on that.
If the 34-39 Trail Blazers lose their final seeding game tomorrow against the Nets, the Grizzlies would secure the eighth seed with a win, and would need to win just one of the two play-in games to qualify for a first-round playoff matchup against the top-seeded Lakers. The Grizzlies would be the ninth seed if they and the Blazers win, but as the ninth seed they would need to win both play-in games to advance.
A Grizzlies loss tomorrow to an Antetokounmpo-free Bucks squad would likely eliminate Memphis from the playoffs. This could have interesting draft implications for the Celtics, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe reminds us (Twitter link). Boston owns the Grizzlies’ first-round draft pick if it falls outside the top six picks this season, before becoming completely unprotected in 2021.
Were Memphis to fall into the draft lottery for 2020, the team would have a slim chance at a pick within the top six. If the Grizzlies get lucky in the lottery, the Celtics would instead receive the team’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick. A play-in series loss would also theoretically keep the Grizzlies’ chances at retaining their own 2020 pick alive.