Tune-In Tidbits: ESPN Sunday, May 16, 2021
Get ready for Sunday's ESPN doubleheader with the five key stats to know about each matchup on the final day of the regular season.
Brian Martin, for NBA.com
Celtics (36-35) at Knicks (40-31)
1 p.m. ET, ESPN
• The Celtics are locked into the No. 7 spot and will host the 7-8 game in the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament. Their opponent is still to be determined as Charlotte, Washington and Indiana all enter Sunday with matching 33-38 records. The Celtics won the season series with each of their three potential opponents 2-1.
• The Knicks enter Sunday tied with Atlanta at 40-31, but hold the No. 4 seed via the head-to-head tiebreaker by sweeping the season series with the Hawks 3-0. Both the Knicks and Hawks are one game up on the the Heat (39-32), but there is a possibility for a three-way tie should New York and Atlanta lose and Miami wins. In that scenario, Atlanta would take the No. 4 see as the Southeast Division winner, Miami would be No. 5 by sweeping the head-to-head series with New York and New York would be No. 6.
• Julius Randle (24.2 ppg. 10.3 rpg, 6.0 apg) is one of five players this season averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, joining Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook and Domantas Sabonis. Randle would be the first Knicks player to average those marks over a full season in franchise history.
• The Celtics have gone 2-4 since losing Jaylen Brown for the season (he last played May 2). Brown was Boston’s leading scorer against New York this season, averaging 28.5 points per game. Since Brown has been out, Kemba Walker has averaged a team-high 29.8 ppg while appearing in four games, Jayson Tatum has averaged 25.5 ppg, and Evan Fournier has added 19.7 ppg while shooting 54.5% (24-44) from 3-point range.
• The Celtics have gone 7-5 in games decided by three points or less, while the Knicks have gone just 2-9 in such games. Boston has relied on Jayson Tatum in those close games as he is tied with Damian Lillard with 44 points in 24 minutes when the game is within three points in the final minute of play in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Grizzlies (38-33) at Warriors (38-33)
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
• The Warriors and Grizzlies are both locked into the Play-In Tournament, but which game they play in will be determined on Sunday. Entering with matching 38-33 records and a 1-1 season series split, the winner of this game earns the No. 8 spot in the tournament, the loser drops to the No. 9 spot. The teams in the 7 vs. 8 game have two chances to win one game to earn a playoff spot, while the teams in the 9 vs. 10 game must win twice to secure a playoff spot. The winner of 7 vs. 8 gets the No. 7 seed in the playoffs, while the loser of 7 vs. 8 takes on the winner of 9 vs. 10 in a game that determines which teams gets the No. 8 seed in the playoffs.
• The Warriors and Grizzlies split a two-game set on March 19-20 with the two games decided by a total of five points (219-214 composite score). The team that won the first quarter went on to win each game. On March 19, the Warriors led by eight points after the first quarter and won the game by 13 points; on March 20, the Grizzlies led by four points after the first quarter and won the game by eight points.
• Stephen Curry (bruised tailbone) did not play in either game against Memphis in March as the Warriors were led by Andrew Wiggins at 30.0 ppg, followed by Jordan Poole at 25.5 ppg; it was the highest scoring average against any opponent this season for both players.
• The Grizzlies had seven players average in double figures against the Warriors while appearing in both games. Brandon Clarke (14.5), Jonas Valanciunas (14.5), Ja Morant (14.0) and Dillon Brooks (13.5) all averaged within one point of one another as the Grizzlies averaged 107 points against Golden State – their seventh-lowest scoring average against any team this season. The Grizzlies rank 14th in points per game on the season at 113.5.
• If Stephen Curry (31.76 ppg) plays and Bradley Beal (31.41) does not, Curry needs to score only 10 points against Memphis to secure his second career scoring title. If Curry finishes with 10 points, he will average 31.4127 ppg, while Beal would maintain his 31.4068 ppg if he does not play. Beal is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.