While all things out in the Eastern Conference are settled, the Western Conference is set for one of the biggest days of the season for the 4 contending play-in teams.
Portland enters tomorrow’s play in the best possible position. Win and they secure 8th spot. Which will mean a double shot at the playoffs in the NBA’s first-ever play in Playoff.
Portland faces off against a Brooklyn team tomorrow who has overachieved in this bubble. Missing a chunk of their best players, this young Brooklyn team has pulled off multiple upsets (the biggest against the Bucks), playing at an incredibly quick pace and shooting a boatload of 3s a game to shock a lot of pundits.
Portland got into this position with a huge win over Dallas, and the play of Damian Lillard has to be nothing short of sensational. Paul George and Pat Beverley may have awoken the beast.
Since Dame missed 2 game winning Free Throws against his LA Rivals, he’s pulled off a 50 piece v Philly and a ridiculous 61 Points against Dallas to get them into 8th.
The Blazers can still get in with a loss but would require 2 of the other 3 contending teams to lose.
Memphis entered the bubble in 8th spot and looked all but certain to finish with at the very least a play-in spot.
A devastating injury to their 2nd star Jaren Jackson Jr has derailed their quest for the playoffs (albeit a shocking one at that given this team was given no chance at the beginning of the season), in which they’ve gone on to lose 6 of their first 7 games. Memphis have drawn the Bucks in their last game, and the scenario for them is simple: Win, and they’re in the play in game. Lose, and they’ll need BOTH Phoenix and San Antonio to lose.
One thing in Memphis’ favour going into this last game is the fact they play a Bucks team who have every chance of pulling the pin in the 2nd half.
They’re already without Giannis after his Zinedine Zidane like head-butt (serving a 1 game suspension) and are likely to rest their starters in the home stretch.
As long as Memphis hang around in the first half, Ja Morant will make sure this team is in the driver’s seat to put the game to bed and secure a play-in spot.
Seemingly everyone’s favourite team will need some help getting into the play-in even with a Win over Dallas.
Phoenix has won every game in the bubble, with their superstar Devin Booker torching every opponent they have faced. The scenario for this Suns team is a Win over Dallas, and a Loss by either Memphis or Portland, and the Suns remain alive. Dame v Booker anyone?!?!
Finally, the team that never seems to go away, are still a chance to get themselves in the playoffs. What a champion team this is (and coach that Pop is!)
San Antonio faces off against a Utah team tomorrow who has already locked up the 6 seed and has already decided to rest Rudy and Mike Conley. You’d like to think Donovan Mitchell won’t be playing too many minutes either in this one.
Even with a San Antonio win, this team will need 2 of the remaining 3 to lose their games, and miraculously San Antonio gets themselves into a play in scenario.
They’re definitely on the outside looking in, but the fact that they’re even a chance of sneaking into the playoffs with all the bodies they have on the sidelines (particularly LaMarcus Aldridge and our very own Patty Mills) is remarkable in itself.
Who are we cheering tomorrow morning?? Let me know in the comments below. 🏀