Marc Gasol made sure confirm what most predicted, leading the Memphis Grizzlies to the semifinals of the Western Conference following a 99-93 home victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday morning.
Remember those signs in the Blazers’ locker room in Game 1 saying “We don’t lose to Spanish players”, which forced Frenchman Nicolas Batum to apologise?
Well, Gasol seems to have taken it seriously, blocking a jumper by Nicolas Batum with 6.9 seconds left to start the celebration in the close out game.
The Spaniard power forward came up with 26 points and 14 rebounds to help Memphis win their first-round series at 5-1, despite a career-high 33 points effort from CJ McCollum in the losing cause.
Even though McCollum finished with zero assists, he was on fire making 7 of his 11 tree-pointer attempts, former Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard added 22 points, trying to give Portland a second chance in the series after Game 4 home victory, but the Grizzlies showed no interest in travelling to Portland again.
It was Memphis’ eighth victory over Portland this season, after a sweep of Portland in four of their regular season meetings.
The Grizzlies reached the West semifinals for the third time in five years, and will visit the No 1 seeded team Golden State Warriors in Game 1 on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks who have been superb playing at home this season – they finished the season with a 35-6 home record – bounced back back from two consecutive losses at Brooklyn, claiming Game 5 thanks to a 107-97 home victory over the Nets, which allowed them to regain the series lead at 3-2.
DeMarre Carroll led the way with 24 points for the Hawks, Kyle Korver made 15 of his 17 points from beyond the arc, and Atlanta visit Brooklyn for Game 6 on Saturday morning.
Should the Nets beat the Hawks at home again, Atlanta will have a chance to close out the series in Game 7 at home on Sunday.