LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla .– The Memphis Grizzlies, having already lost their first three games in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World Resort, took a heavy blow to their playoff hopes on Tuesday when promising young forward Jaren Jackson Jr. was ruled out for the remainder of the season after suffering a meniscus tear in his left knee.
The Grizzlies announced Tuesday night that Jackson “experienced an unstable landing after making contact with an opposing player while contesting a shot” in Memphis’ loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, with further assessment revealing the meniscus tear.
The team said Jackson is expected to make a full recovery.
Jackson had been exceptional in the first three games for Memphis, averaging 25.3 points per game – including 33 Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers – and averaging 17.4 points while shooting nearly 40% from 3 points this season. He and alleged Rookie of the Year Ja Morant have already formed one of the most explosive 1-2 combinations among young NBA players and helped propel Memphis to eighth before the NBA restart.
But after three tough and close losses to open the game – Friday in overtime against the Blazers, Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs and Monday against the Pelicans – Memphis is only two games ahead of the Blazers and Spurs for eighth place in the West, and with all five games to go (against Utah, Oklahoma City, Toronto, Boston and Milwaukee) against some infallible playoff teams.
The West’s eighth and ninth-place teams will play against each other in a play-in tournament later this month at the end of all eight ranking games – assuming there are four games. or less between the two teams, which is anything but guaranteed to happen now. The eighth-place team will need to win one of two games to qualify to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, while the ninth-place team is expected to win twice.