NBA Playoff Picture 2021: Final West Bracket After Grizzlies Beat Warriors

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 22, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 21: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors plays defense on Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2021 Play-In Tournament game on May 21, 2021 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

With Friday's 117-112 overtime victory over the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center in the NBA play-in tournament, the Memphis Grizzlies have clinched the eighth and final playoff seed in the Western Conference. 

Memphis will face the No. 1-seeded Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs beginning Sunday at Vivint Smart Home Arena. 


The @memgrizz clinch the #NBAPlayoffs!<br><br>They will be the West #8 seed and face #1 UTA on Sunday at 9:30 PM ET on TNT. pic.twitter.com/mC5ruW0YQN

Here's a look at the full Western Conference playoff matchups now that the bracket has been officially set.


2021 NBA Western Conference Playoff Bracket

No. 1 Utah Jazz vs. No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies

No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers

No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers

No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Dallas Mavericks 


Western Conference Playoff Outlook

The results of the West's first play-in tournament may have helped the NBA ensure at least one of its marquee teams made the playoffs, with the Los Angeles Lakers locking up the No. 7 seed, but that won't be much of a comfort to the rest of the conference.

With final seeds locked in, the No. 1 Jazz and No. 2 Phoenix Suns can officially begin prepping for their first-round opponents. 

NBA Communications @NBAPR

2021 NBA Playoffs - First Round Schedule (by series)<br>👀 ⬇️https://t.co/lAt2O57E57

Much of what kept the Lakers from securing a top-six seed in the West was injuries. With prolonged absences from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Los Angeles went from contending for the No. 1 seed to fighting for its playoff life at the end of the regular season. 

That could spell trouble for a young Suns team featuring Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges. 

The steadying force of Chris Paul—who briefly entered the MVP conversation by averaging 16.4 points, 8.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game—may be the best thing Phoenix has going for itself. CP3 knows James' and Davis' skill sets as well as anyone, and his playoff experience can help a relatively inexperienced roster stay calm.

Things should be a bit easier for the Jazz.

Utah swept Memphis in three games during the regular season, and the Jazz match up well with the Grizz. Rudy Gobert is able to post up on Jonas Valanciunas, while Donovan Mitchell can handle Ja Morant. Bojan Bogdanovic is likely to guard Jaren Jackson Jr. 

That doesn't mean the series is a virtual lock for the Jazz. Memphis won even though Golden State had home-court advantage Friday, and so Utah needs to prepare for the Grizz to put up a fight.  

Los Angeles is more likely to hang with the Suns than Memphis is to go six games with the Jazz. But the experience could help force the young Grizzlies team's development into overdrive. 

One thing is for sure: The play-in tournament was nothing short of a success this year. And it doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.