The Memphis Grizzlies occupied the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot coming into the NBA bubble at the end of July. But the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs were all within striking distance.
The Grizzlies dropped their first game in overtime and things snowballed from there. In seven restart games, Memphis has gone just 1-6 while the other three teams have taken off.
Portland got 61 points from Damian Lillard Tuesday night as they clawed out a much-needed victory to move to 5-2 in Orlando. Same with the Spurs, who are getting some of the most efficient offence DeMar DeRozan has supplied all season. And then there is the undefeated Suns at 7-0, who are quickly becoming everyone’s favourite underdog.
Because things are so close, the final day of the NBA’s “regular” season isn’t going to be enough to settle it. For the first time in more than 60 years, the NBA will have a play-in to determine the final spot in the playoffs this weekend. The last time this happened was in 1956 between the New York Knicks and the now-defunct Syracuse Nationals, who snatched the victory.
With everything depending on Thursday’s slate of games, here is what has to happen for each of the four teams to make the play-in as either the eight or the nine seed:
Portland will be seeded:
#8 if Blazers win OR Grizzlies, Suns and Spurs lose
#9 if Blazers lose and loss by any two of Grizzlies, Suns or Spurs
ELIMINATED if Blazers lose and wins by any two of Grizzlies, Suns or Spurs
Matchup: Trail Blazers vs. Nets – 9 p.m. ET. Watch LIVE on TSN1, TSN5, TSN Direct
Memphis will be seeded:
#8 if Grizzlies win and Blazers lose
#9 if Grizzlies win and Blazers win OR Grizzlies, Suns and Spurs all lose
ELIMINATED if Grizzlies lose and wins by either Suns or Spurs
Matchup: Bucks vs. Grizzlies – 4 p.m. ET. Watch LIVE on TSN4, TSN Direct
Phoenix will be seeded:
#8 if Suns win and Blazers and Grizzlies both lose
#9 if Suns win and Blazers or Grizzlies lose
ELIMINATED if Suns lose
Matchup: Mavericks vs. Suns – 4 p.m. ET. Watch on TSN1, TSN Direct
San Antonio will be seeded:
#8 if Spurs win and Blazers, Grizzlies and Suns all lose
#9 if Spurs win and loss by any two of Blazers, Grizzlies and Suns
ELIMINATED if Spurs lose
Matchup: Spurs vs. Jazz – 6:30 p.m. ET. Watch LIVE on TSN1, TSN Direct