The race for the final western conference playoff spot has only grown tighter in Orlando. With one game remaining, we know we will see a play-in situation between two teams this weekend. What we don’t know yet is which two teams will play for the right to face the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
The NBA playoff push all comes down to today.
By the end of today, Aug. 13, it will be known who will be playing this weekend in the play-in game(s). Four teams have a chance to earn one of two available spots. The Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns, and Spurs find themselves going down to the wire with one another.
Here is everything you need to know about the final playoff push in the western conference.
Portland Controls Their Own Fate
The Portland Trail Blazers hold a 5-2 record in Orlando. They play the depleted Brooklyn Nets in their final game in which they can seal their ticket to the play-in games this weekend. All the Blazers have to do is win against the Nets to secure the eighth spot.
Damian Lillard is playing lights-out basketball, in case you haven’t heard. Further, Jusuf Nurkic has hit the ground running in his return. The rest of the Blazers are playing the best basketball of their season right now, as well.
It’s hard to imagine any way in which the Blazers lose to an extremely short-handed Nets team.
Portland plays Brooklyn at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Memphis Can Still Secure a Play-in Spot
Like Portland, Memphis is able to lock up one of the final two spots if they win on Thursday. Simply put: if they win, they are in. They can leapfrog Portland with a win plus a Trail Blazers loss, as well. If Memphis loses, all it takes is a win from either the Suns or Spurs to eliminate them officially.
Entering their match-up with the Bucks, who will be missing Giannis Antetokounmpo due to suspension, the Grizzlies are just 1-6 in the bubble. They entered Orlando as the No. 8 team but got off to a slow start before injuries devastated them. Jaren Jackson Jr. was lost for the season after suffering a meniscus tear early in the resumed season.
Memphis plays Milwaukee at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Scorching Hot Suns Need a Win and Help
The Phoenix Suns have become one of the best stories out of the NBA bubble. Assumed by many to only be invited to even out the numbers, the Suns have made a statement whether they get into the playoffs or not. They currently stand at 7-0 in resumed play, being the only team to have no blemishes on their record.
Due to the statement they’ve made, they have catapulted into the race for the No. 8 and 9 seeds in the West. A Suns win on Thursday combined with the Grizzlies and Nets both losing would give the Suns the No. 8 seed. While that’s unlikely, that’s not their only way in. If they win their final game, they need just one of Portland or Memphis to lose and they’ll jump ahead of them in the standings.
The Suns have already been the buzz of the bubble and forcing a play-in situation for a playoff spot would be the cherry on top. They’ll have to pick up a win over the Dallas Mavericks to get things started, though.
Phoenix vs. Dallas is set for 4:00 p.m. ET.
Spurs Need a Win and Significant Help
The San Antonio Spurs have exceeded expectations in the NBA bubble. Without big man LaMarcus Aldridge, it was hard to envision their path to making a run at the playoffs. Well, never doubt Gregg Popovich and co., because they have certainly made a run.
They bring a 5-2 record into their final game, which will see them facing off against the Utah Jazz. San Antonio needs to not only win that game, but they need some good fortune, as well. In addition to winning, the Spurs will need two of the three teams ahead of them to lose. While it may be unlikely, it is certainly possible.
The Spurs will tip-off against the Jazz at 6:30 p.m. ET.