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Home / Sport / Why Blazers, Grizzlies have Edge for the NBA’s Play-in Western Conference | Bleacher Report

Why Blazers, Grizzlies have Edge for the NBA’s Play-in Western Conference | Bleacher Report

Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard (0) dribbled during the second half of the NBA basketball match against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  (Kevin C. Cox / Pool Photo via AP)

Kevin C. Cox / Associated Press


7;s call the NBA’s race to eighth and ninth place in the Western Conference: pure, holistic, brain-shaping anarchy.

That makes it great.

And also completely confusing.

Removing New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings from the war didn’t do much to simplify the range of results. Memphis Grizzlies (currently eight), Portland Trail Blazers (ninth), Phoenix Suns (10th) and San Antonio Spurs (11th) enter the final two matches of the regular season with no more than one separate match. They were together in column defeat.

Any of them are technically possible on eighth. Or ninth. Their potential path to one of those two points seems to be endless. The Athletic’s John Hollinger has done a great job analyzing what needs to happen for each team to break the play-in tournament. I can’t do it better and won’t bother trying.

Instead, with that maze of logistics, I’m more interested in trying to answer the question everyone has been asking since the tournament announced its restart: Which two teams are currently in the best position. to qualify for the tournament?

Ashley Landis / Associated Press

The remaining opponent: Houston Rockets (August 11), Utah Jazz (August 13)

Counting out Spurs is for the bad guys. They are dangerous Spurs. They are working with 22 consecutive appearances after the season for one reason. They are here, surviving for one of the fun spots, because they are not artists pushing past their shelf life but many have drawn them to become bubble money.

Yours is really among those predicting San Antonio’s return to the lottery. It is also possible to maintain consistency.

To be sure, this isn’t me throwing wet toilet paper against the wall and hoping it sticks. Not completely. Their Disney World outing didn’t feel sustainable.

Derrick White was retired but left Sunday’s win against Pelicans with a left knee injury. Keldon Johnson hasn’t missed an extensive trio since Tim Duncan ‘s time. Drew Eubanks is actually playing and the footage crashes into the belt and hangs in space. Only Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers have better percentages from three.

Losing or not getting White at its best is enough to question Spurs. Even if he’s fine, their most likely path to the play-in tournament includes victory. It was … a medium sized order.

Houston has nothing to do really play for everyone but do not sit Tuesday. James Harden and Eric Gordon are not playing; Robert Covington, PJ Tucker and Russell Westbrook should be.

Jazz music is a wilder song. Obviously they weren’t interested in getting fifth and playing the Rockets and then taught a class of masterminds in the mid-game tan on Monday. But if they wanted sixth seed and the Dallas Mavericks a chance to win, they could, possibly, be able to care about Thursday’s final outcome against Spurs, which would be bad news for San Antonio.

Kevin C. Cox / Associated Press

The remaining opponent: Philadelphia 76ers (August 11), Dallas Mavericks (August 13)

Writing down his unbeaten goal, Disney’s best Suns in the world feels like a basketball treason.

Mikal Bridges is removing opposing players from the planet at will. Jevon Carter is on a defensive mission outside of their hotel room. Cameron Johnson is hitting three and making quick passes and barely acting as a pebble at the less glamorous end. Cameron Payne is truly one of the best ADCs alive. Ricky Rubio is making 44.4% of his trips. Deandre Ayton looks like a viable number 2.

Oh, yes, and Phoenix has this Devin Booker guy. Turns out he’s pretty good. He averaged 30.3 points and 6.0 assists in the bubble in terms of irrational efficiency:

You can understand why this is such a difficult call. It’s even tougher to know Booker played under 30 minutes in Monday’s win and Ayton, who didn’t join the Suns until after the end for missing a coronavirus test, logged in just over 17. They will be new at the end of Monday’s return Tuesday – to fight the Sixers, who will lack Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and, likely, a host of others:

Whether the Mavericks decide to play in full on Thursday depends on their desire and ability to take sixth place. Avoiding the Clippers in the first round would be considered a victory, but Dallas had to win the last two and need San Antonio to beat Utah for that to happen.

Placing the Sun here is both a hedge against the potentially interested Thursday’s Mavericks and, moreover, the absolute difficulty to be unbeaten at Disney. Plus, they’ll still need a little help – from Memphis or Portland – to grab a spot even if they win 8-0.

Ashley Landis / Associated Press

The remaining opponent: Boston Celtics (August 11), Milwaukee Bucks (August 13)

Grizzlies cheese beyond the Sun should be taken long and I don’t feel great about that. They are here for absolute convenience. They can lose each of the last two contests and still win the right to participate, as Hollinger pointed out:

“Memphis will attend the match with a win or loss from both Phoenix and San Antonio, or with two defeats against Portland and one against Phoenix or San Antonio.

“Memphis plays eighth seed with two wins, or one win and one defeat to Portland. More importantly, they’ll be 8th seed if Portland lose twice and Phoenix and San Antonio both lose at least once. . “

Perhaps this still overestimates the Grizzlies’ chances.

They don’t have Jaren Jackson Jr. (torn left meniscus) or Justise Winslow (hip), and Tyus Jones is still sidelined because of a right knee injury. Hardly any of their squads make sense anymore. They have the Indiana Pacers West vibe for them, outperforming their talent on the ring, but they’re extremely thin at outside shooting, and Dillon Brooks is actively trying to get Grizz fans to the edge. heart:

Dropping each of the next two games is a distinct possibility – and potentially a hinge on how the Bucks approach Thursday’s match. The Celtics own the Grizzlies first-round 2020 pick (defending the top six) and have every reason to win. Milwaukee was scheduled to face the Orlando Magic in the first round and had no incentive to roll out full force against Memphis unless Eric Bledsoe returned recently needing more representation with starters.

Think of this as a somewhat warm prediction as the Grizzlies figure out how to go 1-1 in the next two matches. Ja Morant’s effectiveness is declining, but he is still Ja Morant. Brandon Clarke and Jonas Valanciunas are much better than they have shown.

Maybe Kyle Anderson has a big game in him. Or maybe De’Anthony Melton forced 37 to steal against a half-hearted offense by the Bucks that might lack Giannis Antetokounmpo. I do not know. This tool is difficult. I regret everything.

Kevin C. Cox / Associated Press

The remaining opponent: Dallas Mavericks (August 11), Brooklyn Nets (August 13)

It represents Bol Bol’s fragility and thin margin for the error of this whole process that I trust most when the Blazers have won one of the two main kicks.

Like the Grizzlies, they control their own destiny. Victory will guarantee their right of entry. Taking care of the Nets is not an issue. Their full strength bubble formation is not even half of their actual strength full squad. The Mavs, on the other hand, have something to play with – insofar they want to finish sixth instead of Saturday. Things could turn out badly for Blazers if Dallas’ offense is on the right track.

Then again, falling down the Mavericks will not be the end of the world. Portland has other ways to take eighth or ninth place – theories are likely to get exponentially higher if either Spurs or Suns lose to Tuesday.

Perhaps Blazer did not deserve to benefit from the doubt. They are 20th in terms of allowable points over 100 possessions since the restart and have not been able to figure out how to beat a squad of Clippers who are, to be sure, trying to help increase their post-season chances.

However, Portland has Damian Lillard, a person who is walking 40-50. CJ McCollum is an offensive weapon in his own right. Jusuf Nurkic has moved a lot better defensively. Carmelo Anthony is shooting well. Gary Trent Jr never missed a point three. The opposing acts are accounting for nearly 46% of the total number of acts against them. That should normalize immediately.

This team doesn’t seem to be the most likely candidate only. It feels like people love to win it.

Unless otherwise noted, stats are authorized by NBA.com, Basketball or Glass Cleaning Reference and current headlines in Friday’s matches. Information on salaries and limits is available through Basketball Insiders, Beginners Rights and Spotrac.

Dan Favale reporting on NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@danfavale) and listen Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by B / R’s Adam Fromal.

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