All Eyes On The Western Conference Play-In Race

08/13/2020 at 09:08pm

By Brian Martin


Thursday Update #3 (Aug. 13, 11:45 ET)

Play-In Set: No. 8 Portland vs. No. 9 Memphis

It came down to the wire, but the Blazers got the win they had to have in order to keep their season alive, as they defeated the Nets 134-133 to secure the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference Play-In. Damian Lillard poured in 42 points and 12 assists, CJ McCollum added 25 points and Jusuf Nurkic posted 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Blazers past a playoff-bound Nets squad led by Caris LeVert's 36 points.

The Blazers win drops the Grizzlies to the No. 9 seed in the Play-In, meaning they will have to beat the Blazers twice this weekend in order to secure the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and a matchup with the top seeded Lakers. The Blazers win also ends the season for the Phoenix Suns, who went 8-0 in the restart and become the first team in NBA history to end the season on an eight-game win streak and miss the playoffs.

By holding the No. 8 seed, the Blazers will only have to beat the Grizzlies once in order to lock up the a playoff berth for the seventh consecutive season. The Blazers get their first chance to advance in Game 1 of the Western Conference Play-In on Saturday, Aug. 15 at 2:30 ET on ABC. If a second game is needed, it will be played on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 4:30 ET on ESPN.

The Blazers and Grizzlies met in the first game of the restart for both teams with Portland earning a 140-135 win in overtime behind 62 combined points from McCollum and Lillard. Jaren Jackson Jr. (who is now out for the season) led the Grizzlies with 33 points while Ja Morant had a double-double with 22 points and 11 assists.


Thursday Update #2 (Aug. 13, 6:30 ET)

Grizzlies In, Suns Alive, Spurs Out; Play-In Will Be Determined By Blazers vs. Nets

With Memphis and Phoenix both closing out their seeding games with wins today, the San Antonio Spurs have officially been eliminated from Western Conference Play-In contention and will see their 22-season playoff streak come to an end.

Behind 31 points from Dillon Brooks and triple-doubles from Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas, the Grizzlies defeated the Bucks 119-106 to guarantee a spot in the Play-In as the Grizzlies can finish no lower than ninth. Memphis and Phoenix finish the season with matching 34-39 records, but Memphis owns the tiebreaker by having won the season series with Phoenix 3-1.

Devin Booker's 27 points led the Suns to a 128-102 win over the Mavericks to go a perfect 8-0 in the seeding games. While the Suns did everything they could do to put themselves in position for the Play-In, they still need some help to get in.

It all comes down to tonight's matchup between Portland and Brooklyn as the Blazers control their own destiny. A Blazers win would give Portland the No. 8 seed and a matchup with No. 9 Memphis, while Phoenix would be eliminated. A Blazers loss would end their season and give Memphis the No. 8 seed and a matchup with No. 9 Phoenix in the Play-In.

Portland vs. Brooklyn, 9:00 ET, TNT

Portland Win:

  • No. 8 Portland vs. No. 9 Memphis in Play-In
  • Phoenix out

Portland Loss:

  • No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 9 Phoenix in Play-In
  • Portland out

Damian Lillard has been on fire with Portland's season on the line, as he's put together back-to-back games of 51 and 61 points to put Portland in the driver's seat for the Play-In. Can he put the Blazers on his back on more time and lead them to the No. 8 spot in the Play-In, putting the Blazers just one win away from a return to the NBA Playoffs?


Thursday Update #1 (Aug. 13, 1:00 ET)

Four Games To Determine The Play-In Matchup

The two teams that will meet in the Western Conference Play-In will be determined on Thursday as the four teams in contention - Portland, Memphis, Phoenix and San Antonio - all close out their seeding games today. With the four teams separated by just a half-game, each of these games has major implications for the race.

Thursday's Schedule

  • Memphis vs. Milwaukee, 4:00 ET, NBA League Pass
  • Phoenix vs. Dallas, 4:00 ET, TNT
  • San Antonio vs. Utah, 6:30 ET, TNT
  • Portland vs. Brooklyn, 9:00 ET, TNT

As a reminder, here are the clinching and elimination scenarios for all four teams entering Thursday.

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

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

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

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

The action begins at 4:00 ET with Memphis taking on Milwaukee (without Giannis Antetokounmpo) and Phoenix taking on Dallas. Below is a breakdown of all the possible outcomes of those two games and what it means for all four of the contending teams for the Play-In.

Grizzlies Win, Suns Win

  • Grizzlies: clinch at least No. 9; clinch No. 8 with Blazers loss
  • Suns: stay alive but do not clinch; no chance at No. 8; clinch No. 9 with Blazers loss
  • Spurs: eliminated
  • Blazers: must win to clinch play-in berth as No. 8; no chance at No. 9

Grizzlies Win, Suns Loss

  • Grizzlies: clinch at least No. 9; clinch No. 8 with Blazers loss
  • Suns: eliminated
  • Spurs: no chance at No. 8; clinch No. 9 with win and Blazers loss
  • Blazers: clinch at least No. 9 with Spurs loss; clinch No. 8 with win

Grizzlies Loss, Suns Win

  • Grizzlies: eliminated
  • Suns: clinch at least No. 9; clinch No. 8 with Blazers loss
  • Spurs: no chance at No. 8; clinch No. 9 with win and Blazers loss
  • Blazers: clinch at least No. 9 with Spurs loss; clinch No. 8 with win

Grizzlies Loss, Suns Loss

  • Grizzlies: no chance at No. 8; clinch No. 9 with loss by Spurs
  • Suns: eliminated
  • Spurs: stay alive for No. 8; clinch No. 8 with win and Blazers loss; clinch No. 9 with win and Blazers win
  • Blazers: clinch at least No. 9; clinch No. 8 with win or Spurs loss


Tuesday Update #3 (Aug. 11, 10:35 ET)

Lillard's 61 Puts Blazers in Control of Play-In Race

Behind a brilliant 61-point performance from Damian Lillard - matching his career-high from earlier this season - the Blazers put themselves in the driver's seat for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference Play-In with a 134-131 win over Dallas on Tuesday night.

With the win, Portland holds a half-game lead over the other three contenders for the Play-In - Memphis sits at No. 9 by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Suns, Phoenix is currently in 10th, and San Antonio is in 11th due to having a slightly lower win percentage than Memphis and Phoenix.

All four teams will be back in action on Thursday to close out their seeding games and determine which two teams will square off in the Western Conference Play-In for a chance to face the Los Angles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. The first game of the Play-In will be on Saturday, Aug. 15 at 2:30 ET on ABC.

Thursday's Schedule

  • Memphis vs. Milwaukee, 4:00 ET, NBA League Pass
  • Phoenix vs. Dallas, 4:00 ET, TNT
  • San Antonio vs. Utah, 6:30 ET, TNT
  • Portland vs. Brooklyn, 9:00 ET, TNT

Here is a complete breakdown of how each team can either claim the No. 8 seed (and the advantage of having to only win one game in the Play-In), or the No. 9 seed (need to win two games in the Play-In), or find themselves out and headed back home as their season comes to an end.

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

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

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

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


Tuesday Update #2 (Aug. 11, 7:35 ET)

Suns Win + Grizzlies Loss = 4 Way Tie ... For Now

When the day opened, Memphis held the No. 8 seed, with Portland a half-game back and Phoenix and San Antonio a full game back. Here's how things have played out so far:

  • San Antonio: Win vs. Houston, improve to 32-38 (.457)
  • Phoenix: Win vs. Philadelphia, improve to 33-39 (.458)
  • Memphis: Loss to Boston, fall to 33-39 (.458)
  • Portland: In action vs. Dallas, currently 33-39 (.458)

That's right, it is essentially a four-way tie in the race for the Western Conference Play-In.

A win by Portland tonight against Dallas would move them up to No. 8, Memphis would be No. 9 (via head-to-head tiebreaker with Phoenix), Phoenix would be No. 10 and San Antonio would be No. 11 due to their lower win percentage (by .001).

Portland Win vs. Dallas

TeamW-LWin%GB
8. Portland34-39.466-
9. Memphis33-39.458*0.5
10. Phoenix33-39.4580.5
11. San Antonio32-38.4570.5
*holds head-to-head tiebreaker

A loss by Portland would see Memphis hold at No. 8, Phoenix move up to No. 9, San Antonio move up to No. 10 and Portland fall to No. 11 and trailing the other three contenders by a half-game with one game to play for all four teams on Thursday.

Portland Loss vs. Dallas

TeamW-LWin%GB
8. Memphis33-39.458*-
9. Phoenix33-39.458-
10. San Antonio32-38.457-
11. Portland33-40.4520.5

Once the Portland game is decided, all of the potential clinching scenarios will be laid out to show how each team can qualify for the Play-In.


Tuesday Update #1 (Aug. 11, 1:30 ET)

Spurs Start Tuesday Off With A Win

All four teams in contention for the Western Conference Play-In are in action on Tuesday as each team plays the first of their final two seeding games.

The San Antonio Spurs were the first team to take the court on Tuesday and earned a much-needed 123-105 win over the Houston Rockets behind 47 combined points from DeMar DeRozan and Keldon Johnson to keep their hopes of qualifying for the Play-In alive.

The win moves the Spurs back ahead of Phoenix for the No. 10 spot in standings and puts the pressure on the Suns to keep pace when they face Philadelphia this afternoon (4:30 ET)

Current Standings and Clinching/Elimination Scenarios following San Antonio's Win

8. Memphis: 33-38 (.465)

  • Tuesday vs. Boston, 5:00 ET
  • Clinches a play-in game with a win

9. Portland: 33-39 (.458), 0.5 GB

  • Tuesday vs, Dallas, 6:30 ET, TNT
  • No clinching or elimination scenario on Tuesday after San Antonio win

10. San Antonio: 32-38 (.457), 0.5 GB

  • Tuesday: W vs. Houston 123-105
  • Avoided any chance of elimination on Tuesday with win

11. Phoenix: 32-39 (.451) 1.0 GB

  • Tuesday vs. Philadelphia, 4:30 ET
  • Eliminated with a loss AND a Portland win


Monday Update (Aug. 10)

Suns Stay Hot, Rise to 10th in Play-In Race

The Phoenix Suns remain unbeaten in the restart as they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, 128-101, to improve to 6-0 in Orlando and 32-39 on the season.

After losing the opening quarter 37-23 and trailing by as many as 15 points, the Suns outscored the Thunder 105-64 in the final three periods to earn the all-important victory. Devin Booker led all players with 35 points as six Suns finished in double figures.

The win vaults the Suns over the Spurs for 10th in the race for the Western Conference Play-In. The Suns and Spurs are both one game behind Memphis for No. 8 and a half-game back of Portland for No. 9, but Phoenix gets the edge over San Antonio due to a slight edge in win percentage.

While games back was the focus to determine whether or not a Play-In would be needed, now the focus must shift to win percentage as it is the determining factor for the final standings. Of the four teams in contention, only Memphis and Phoenix will have played the same amount of games at season's end (73); Portland will have played 74 and San Antonio will have played only 71.

This puts the Spurs in a tough spot as they are essentially tied with the Suns in terms of games back, but because Phoenix has played two additional games and has one more win and one more loss on their record than San Antonio, their win percentage is .002 better.

The Suns were the only one of the contending teams in action on Monday, so now all four teams have two games remaining over the next three days to determine which two will face off in the Western Conference Play-In for the No. 8 seed and a first round meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers.

All four teams will be in action on Tuesday:

  • San Antonio vs. Houston, 2:00 ET (NBA TV)
  • Phoenix vs. Philadelphia, 4:30 ET (League Pass)
  • Memphis vs. Boston, 5:00 ET (League Pass)
  • Portland vs. Dallas, 6:30 ET (TNT)

Here is a quick look at the latest clinching and elimination scenarios heading for Tuesday's games:

  • MEMPHIS clinches a play-in game with a win OR with losses by Phoenix and San Antonio.
  • PORTLAND clinches a play-in game with a win AND with losses by Phoenix and San Antonio.
  • PHOENIX is eliminated with a loss AND a Portland win.
  • SAN ANTONIO is eliminated with a loss AND a win by EITHER Portland or Phoenix.


Sunday Update #2 (Aug. 9)

Blazers Win Eliminates Pelicans and Kings

Earlier on Sunday, a Play-In was officially guaranteed by Memphis' loss to Toronto. Now the number of teams vying for those two Play-In spots has been reduced from six to four as New Orleans and Sacramento were eliminated by Portland's win over Philadelphia. That leaves No. 8 Memphis, No. 9 Portland, No. 10 San Antonio and No. 11 Phoenix all within 1.5 games of each other five days remaining before the Play-In.

Damian Lillard finished with 51 points - his fifth 50-point game of the season, tying him with James Harden for most in the NBA this season - to lead the Blazers to a 124-121 over the Sixers. With the win, the Blazers climb within a half-game of Memphis for the No. 8 spot and hold a half-game lead of the Spurs for the No. 9 spot. Phoenix was not in action on Sunday and sits one game back of Portland for No. 9 and 1.5 games back of Memphis for No. 8.

The Grizzlies, Blazers and Spurs all have two games remaining, while the Suns have three games left (they are the only team in action on Monday) in order to secure one of the two spots in the Play-In, with added emphasis on holding the No. 8 spot at the end of the seeding games. In the Play-In, the No. 8 seed only needs to win one game, while the No. 9 seed needs to win two games in order to clinch the playoff berth.

Remaining Schedule and Head-to-Head Tiebreakers

Below is a look at the current head-to-head records and the remaining schedule for the four teams battling for the final playoff spot in the West. Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker rule used if two teams finish with identical win percentages at the end of the seeding games.

Memphis

  • Head-to-Heads: POR (1-1), SAS (2-2), PHX (3-1)
  • Remaining Games: 8/11 vs. BOS, 8/13 vs. MIL

Portland

  • Head-to-Heads: MEM (1-1), SAS (2-1), PHX (2-2)
  • Remaining Games: 8/11 vs. DAL, 8/13 vs. BKN
  • San Antonio

  • Head-to-Heads: MEM (2-2), POR (1-2), PHX (2-1)
  • Remaining Games: 8/11 vs. HOU, 8/13 vs. UTA
  • Phoenix

  • Head-to-Heads: MEM (1-3), POR (2-2), SAS (1-2)
  • Remaining Games: 8/10 vs. OKC, 8/11 vs. PHI, 8/13 vs. DAL

  • Sunday Update #1 (Aug. 9)

    Play-In Series Guaranteed Out West

    With Memphis' 108-99 loss to Toronto on Sunday, there is no way that there will be a four-game difference between the eighth and ninth place finishers at the end of the seeding games, thus guaranteeing that a play-in will be required to determine the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.

    The play-in will tip off on Saturday, Aug. 15 at 2:30 ET and will be broadcast on ABC. If the eighth seed team wins Saturday’s matchup, that team will advance to the playoffs. If the ninth seed wins, a second game will be played on ESPN on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 4:30 ET.

    The teams that will participate in that play-in are still to be determined as every game involving the teams from Nos. 8-13 has major implications.

    San Antonio defeated New Orleans, 122-113, on Sunday afternoon in a head-to-head matchup of two play-in contenders. The win moves the Spurs up to No. 10 in the standings at 31-38, just one game behind No. 8 Memphis (33-38) and even with No. 9 Portland (32-39) in terms of games back of Memphis, but trailing the Blazers slightly in win percentage.

    A Portland win tonight over Philadelphia would clear the field a bit by eliminating both New Orleans (30-40) and Sacramento (29-40); the Kings can also be eliminated by a loss of their own regardless of Portland's outcome. This would make it a four-team race for two spots, with each team having just two games remaining after Sunday.


    Update Following Saturday's Games (Aug. 8)

    The Phoenix Suns are the only unbeaten team in the restart as they beat Miami 119-112 on Saturday behind 35 points from Devin Booker to improve to 5-0 in Orlando and move within a half game of Portland for ninth place in the race for the play-in in the Western Conference.

    The Suns take over the 10th spot in the standings from idle San Antonio despite both being two games back of the Grizzlies and 0.5 games back of Portland. At 31-39, the Suns have a win percentage of 0.443, just 0.02 ahead of the 30-38 Spurs. These small win percentage advantages due to teams having played a different total number of games could come into play to determine who gets into the play-in.

    The Blazers took a tough loss to the Clippers on Saturday as they fell 1.5 games behind Memphis and saw their lead for the ninth spot shrink to just a half game over Phoenix and San Antonio, and a full game over New Orleans. Damian Lillard came up empty on a pair of free throws that could have given Portland the lead with 18 seconds left and his pull-up 3-point attempt with nine seconds left would have tied it, but came up just short.

    All six teams in contention for the final playoff berth in the West have now played five of their eight seeding games. Four of those teams will be in action on Sunday, including the final head-to-head matchup between the Spurs and Pelicans. Sitting in 12th place, every game is a must-win for the Pelicans at this point, and a loss to San Antonio would all but end New Orleans' play-in hopes.

    2020 NBA Playoffs: Clinching/Elimination Scenarios for Sunday's Games

    • MEMPHIS clinches play-in game with a win
    • SACRAMENTO is eliminated with a loss OR a Portland win
    • NEW ORLEANS is eliminated with a loss AND a Portland win

    A win by Memphis on Sunday guarantees that they will finish in either the eighth or ninth spot regardless of how their final two games play out. If Memphis beats Toronto on Sunday, they would improve to 34-37 and their worst possible final record would be 34-39 (0.466 win percentage).

    If Phoenix were to win out, they would also finish at 34-39, but Memphis owns the head-to-head tie breaker and the better conference record tiebreaker (20-26 with no more conference games, compared to a best-case scenario conference record of 19-27 for Phoenix).

    If San Antonio were to win out, they would finish 33-38 for a win percentage of 0.465, which falls short of Memphis. While the Suns and Spurs would still have a chance to catch Portland for the No. 9 spot in the play-in, they would not be able to catch Memphis.

    Portland still has a shot at the No. 8 seed, but will need some help from the top three teams in the Eastern Conference as the Grizzlies close out the season with Toronto, Boston and Milwaukee. The Blazers needs the Grizzlies to lose at least two of those games in order to have a chance at the No. 8 seed.


    Update Following Friday's Games (Aug. 7)

    Memphis got a much-needed win over Oklahoma City to earn their first W of the restart. A loss would have dropped Memphis into a tie with Portland at 32-38 and Portland would have taken over the No. 8 seed due to tiebreaker rules (better conference record, 19-26 for Portland vs. 19-27 had Memphis lost). Instead, the Grizzlies hold a one-game lead over the Blazers with three seeding games remaining for Memphis (four for Portland).

    San Antonio and New Orleans also picked up wins on Friday to keep themselves in the mix. The Spurs are now two games behind Memphis and one game behind Portland, while the Pelicans are a half-game back of the Spurs. The Pelicans pulled even with the idle Suns at 30-39 and take over the 11th spot from Phoenix by virtue of the superior conference record tiebreaker.

    The only team that didn't keep pace on Friday was Sacramento as they fell to Brooklyn to drop to 29-40 and sole possession of 13th place in the standings. With the Kings 2.5 games back of No. 9 Portland and three teams in between, their odds of challenging for the play-in took a devastating hit on Friday.


    Below is the original post (morning of Aug. 7)

    The race for the eighth seed is a common storyline coming down the stretch of any season. But the 2019-20 season restart added a new wrinkle into the mix – a potential play-in for the eighth seed in each conference.

    The details:

    • A play-in will be required if the team that finishes ninth in the conference is within four games of the team that finishes in eighth at the end of the seeding games.

    • The play-in game(s) would take place on Aug. 15th and 16th with the second day only needed if the ninth seed wins the first game.

    • The team in ninth must beat the team in eighth twice in order to secure the No. 8 seed in the playoffs, while the team in eighth must beat the ninth team just once to lock up that spot.

    • It is essentially a best-of-three series with the team in the eighth spot being spotted with a 1-0 lead.

    Let’s review how we got here:

    The 22 teams that are participating in the restart are the 16 teams that were in the playoff field when play was suspended on March 11 and the six teams that were within six games of the eighth seed in each conference. That brought five additional West teams into the mix and one team in the East (Washington).

    While the odds of Washington forcing a play-in are extremely low, out West it is a completely different story. When the restart tipped off on July 30, Memphis held a commanding 3.5 game lead over Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento, a 4.0 game lead over San Antonio and a 6.0 game lead over Phoenix. Following Thursday’s games which saw wins by Sacramento over New Orleans, Phoenix over Indiana and Portland over Denver, all six teams in contention for the eighth seed are now separated by just 2.5 games.

    The odds are overwhelming that at least one of the five teams currently holding the 9-13 spots in the standings will finish within four games of the eighth seed and trigger a play-in.

    Memphis

    As of Thursday afternoon, the Grizzlies still sit in the No. 8 spot but have lost their first four games in Orlando, and lost Jaren Jackson Jr. for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. That 3.5 game cushion they had on the rest of field at the beginning of the restart is almost completely gone, as they sit just a half-game ahead of Portland, 2.0 games ahead of San Antonio and Phoenix, and 2.5 games up on Sacramento and New Orleans.

    Portland

    The Blazers have opened the restart 3-1 – including a key win over Memphis last Friday – and have closed the gap with Memphis to a half-game as they look to claim the No. 8 spot and the advantage heading into a potential play-in. The Blazers are fully healthy with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back in the lineup and are looking much more like the team that made it to the West Finals a season ago than a team looking to sneak into the postseason.

    Portland also has a significant advantage over the teams that trail them in the standings by virtue of having played more games before the season was suspended on March 11. That gives Portland a slight advantage in win percentage over the rest of the teams even if they finish in the same number of games back in the standings.

    Here’s how the standings looked when the restart began on July 30. While the Blazers, Pelicans and Kings all trailed the Grizzlies by 3.5 games, it would have been the Blazers that qualified for the play-in as the No. 9 seed due to the fact that they have a 0.01 edge in win percentage over New Orleans and Sacramento. This is due to the fact that Portland had one more win and one more loss than both of those teams, giving them just a slightly greater win percentage. That advantage could come into play at the end of the seeding games.

    Phoenix

    Perhaps the biggest surprise has been the Phoenix Suns, who are unbeaten in their first four games of the restart to jump from six games back (13th place) to just two games back (10th place) following Thursday’s win over Indiana. Devin Booker (28.0 PPG) leads six Suns averaging in double-figure points as they have outscored their opponents by an average of 8.0 points per game.

    However, since they already have 39 losses, the Suns (as well as the Pelicans and Kings) will need the teams ahead of them to lose some games in order to open the door to the No. 9 spot and a chance at the play-in.

    San Antonio

    The Spurs got off to a great start in Orlando, winning their first two games and looking like they were ready to extend their NBA record for consecutive playoff appearances to 23 years. However, they have cooled off by losing its next two games but remains within striking distance. They are tied in the loss column with Portland, but the Blazers have three additional wins than the Spurs, which gives them a superior win percentage. But if Memphis continues to falter, the Spurs may be in position to take advantage.

    Sacramento

    The Kings got a much-needed win on Thursday in their first of two matchups with the Pelicans in the seeding games. Sacramento opened the restart with three straight losses, including a pair of tough losses to San Antonio and Dallas. Was the win over New Orleans too little, too late or can it spur a winning streak to get them back in the race.

    New Orleans

    The Pelicans are another team that has gotten off to a slow start in Orlando, dropping three of their first four games to fall to 13th place in the standings. New Orleans has two games remaining against teams in the battle for the play-in as they will meet San Antonio on Sunday and Sacramento once again next Tuesday. The Pelicans are 0-1 against San Antonio and 1-1 against Sacramento, so these games could have tiebreaker implications should the teams finish even in the standings at the conclusion of the seeding games.

    Remaining Schedule and Head-to-Head Tiebreakers

    Below is a look at the current head-to-head records and the remaining schedule for all teams battling for the final playoff spot in the West. Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker rule used if two teams finish with identical win percentages at the end of the seeding games.

    Memphis

    • Head-to-Heads: POR (1-1), SAS (2-2), SAC (1-3), NOP (0-3), PHX (3-1)
    • Remaining Games: 8/7 vs. OKC, 8/9 vs. TOR, 8/11 vs. BOS, 8/13 vs. MIL

    Portland

  • Head-to-Heads: MEM (1-1), SAS (2-1), SAC (2-2), NOP (0-4), PHX (2-2)
  • Remaining Games: 8/8 vs. LAC, 8/9 vs. PHI, 8/11 vs. DAL, 8/13 vs. BKN
  • San Antonio

  • Head-to-Heads: MEM (2-2), POR (1-2), SAC (2-1), *NOP (1-0), PHX (2-1)
  • Remaining Games: 8/7 vs. UTA, 8/9 vs. NOP, 8/11 vs. HOU, 8/13 vs. UTA
  • Sacramento

  • Head-to-Heads: MEM (3-1), POR (2-2), SAS (1-2), *NOP (1-1), PHX (2-2)
  • Remaining Games: 8/7 vs. BKN, 8/9 vs. HOU, 8/11 vs. NOP, 8/13 vs. LAL
  • New Orleans

  • Head-to-Heads: MEM (3-0), POR (4-0), *SAS (0-1), *SAC (1-1), PHX (1-1)
  • Remaining Games: 8/7 vs. WAS, 8/9 vs. SAS, 8/11 vs. SAC, 8/13 vs. ORL
  • Phoenix

  • Head-to-Heads: MEM (1-3), POR (2-2), SAS (1-2), SAC (2-2), NOP (1-1)
  • Remaining Games: 8/8 vs. MIA, 8/10 vs. OKC, 8/11 vs. PHI, 8/13 vs. DAL
  • *one head-to-head game remaining

    The Los Angeles Lakers have clinched the top seed in the Western Conference but have no idea who their first-round playoff opponent will be. It will likely come down to a play-in between the teams that finish No. 8 and No. 9 in the standings at the end of the seeding games next Friday.

    The race to see which of the six viable teams in the West will qualify for that play-in will be the story to watch over the final eight days of the regular season. The restart has been dubbed a “Whole New Game” and we’re seeing a whole new way for a race for the eighth seed play out in Orlando.