There are only two days remaining before the NBA’s playoff seeding will been finalized; however, today is the only one that truly matters for the ultra-close race in the play-in game for the Western Conference.
For the East, the eight teams to make the playoff are clear with the matchups already set. The West is far different when it comes to the bottom of the bunch as four teams are vying for two spots and one play-in series.
The Grizzlies were the heavy favorite to make the playoffs entering the bubble. 1-6 so far in bubble play, they’ve slipped but still control their own future. With a win, the Grizzlies lock up the No. 9 seed. They slide back into No. 8 with a win and a Portland loss.
As for the Trail Blazers, who brought in former UK forward Wenyen Gabriel, a win solidifies them at No. 8. With a red-hot Damian Lillard, the Blazers will take on the helpless Nets. It should be an easy win.
Another team making waves is the Phoenix Suns.
They had virtually no shot coming into the bubble but may end as the only team to go perfect in Orlando. Behind Devin Booker’s 30-point average, the Suns have become one of the league’s most entertaining teams.
They’ll need a win and a loss from either Portland or Memphis. They’ll snag the No. 8 seed with a win and both of the aforementioned teams losing.
Every neutral fan should be pulling for Phoenix to down what should be a Luka Doncic-less Mavericks. The real issue may be the Grizzlies losing to a Giannis-less Bucks, not the Suns with their backs against the wall beating Dallas.
Lastly we have first-round draft pick Keldon Johnson and the Spurs.
Led by DeMar DeRozan, they’re a long shot to make the game. They secure the No. 8 seed with a win and a loss to all three other teams and the No. 9 seed with a win and a loss by two of the three.
For Wildcat fans, it’d be nice to see Johnson continue his play as he’s just started to make a name for himself in the bubble.
That said, the No. 9 seed has to beat the No. 8 twice so it’s still an uphill battle even if one of the former Cats make the play-in game. This race has turned into the most polarizing story in NBA hoops with many of the best storylines coming from these four teams.