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Home / Sport / Why the Blazers, Grizzlies Have the Edge for Competition Play in the NBA Western Conference | Bleacher report

Why the Blazers, Grizzlies Have the Edge for Competition Play in the NBA Western Conference | Bleacher report

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

Kevin C. Cox / Associated Press

Let’s call the NBA race for eighth and ninth place in the Western Conference what it is: pure, total, brain-bent anarchy.

Which makes it gorgeous.

And also completely confusing.

Removing the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings from the fracas has done little to simplify the range of results. Memphis Grizzlies (currently eighth), Portland Trail Blazers (ninth), Phoenix Suns (1

0th) and San Antonio Spurs (11th) enter their last two games in the regular season with no more than a single game separating them from losing columns.

Any of them could technically finish in eighth place. Or the ninth. Their possible paths to one of those points are seemingly endless. Athletics John Hollinger did a fantastic job breaking down what must happen for each team to hit the play-off tournament. I can not do it better and will not bother to try.

Instead, given that logistics maze, I’m more interested in trying to answer everyone ‘s question by asking since the championship revealed the resume format: Which two teams are better positioned to qualify in the play-in tournament?

Ashley Landis / Associated Press

Remaining opponents: Houston Rockets (August 11), Utah Jazz (August 13)

Counting Spurs is for bad cuts. They are Spurs friggin ‘. They are working on 22 live appearances after the season for a reason. They are here, alive for one of the game points at all, because they are not the past life-of-the-shelf holiday artists of their highly painted ones to be pre-bubble.

Yours really was among those creators who predicted San Antonio’s return to the lottery. It can even stay stable.

To be sure, this is not me throwing wet toilet paper on the wall and hoping it will stick. Not completely. Their Disney World committee just doesn’t feel stable.

Derrick White has been blazing but left Sunday win over the Pelicans with a left knee injury. Keldon Johnson has not lost a wide three since, roughly, the era of Tim Duncan. Drew Eubanks is actually playing and hitting the shooting party on the edge and hanging in space. Only the Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers are shooting a better percentage out of three.

Losing or not having White at best is enough in itself to suspect Spurs. Even if it’s okay, their most likely path to the play-in tournament involves winning out. This is a secondary way.

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

Jazz are more of a wild card. They clearly have no interest in finishing fifth and playing Rockets and then learned a master class in the middle games on Monday. But if they want the sixth seed and the Dallas Mavericks have a chance to win, they will probably, potentially, care about the final result of Thursday’s match with the Spurs, which, in turn, would be bad news for San Antonio.

Kevin C. Cox / Associated Press

Remaining opponents: Philadelphia 76ers (August 11), Dallas Mavericks (August 13)

Writing off the undefeated, the world’s best Disney Suns feels like the betrayal of basketball.

Mikal Bridges is deleting the opposing players from the planet at will. Jevon Carter is taking over his defensive duties outside their hotel room. Cameron Johnson is hitting threes and making quick passes and barely serves as a stain on cement at the less glamorous finish. Cameron Payne is actually one of the best live advertisers. Ricky Rubio is hitting 44.4 percent of his territory. Deandre Ayton looks like a workable number 2.

Oh, yes, and Phoenix has this son of Devin Booker. It turns out he’s pretty good. He averages 30.3 points and 6.0 assists in a bubble for absurd efficiency:

You can understand why this is such a harsh call. It’s even tougher knowing that Booker played under 30 minutes in Monday’s win and Ayton, who did not join the Suns until after his end because he missed a coronavirus test, recorded just over 17. They should be fresh for the second end of Tuesday. – Counter-Sixers, who will miss Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and, potentially, a bunch of other people:

Whether the Mavericks decide to play on Thursday depends on their desire and ability to take sixth place. Avoiding the Clippers in the first round would be recorded as a win, but Dallas must win its last two games and it takes San Antonio to beat Utah for that to happen.

Placing the Sun here is also a defense against the Mavericks potentially taking care of Thursday’s result and, more than that, the great difficulty of not losing at Disney. Plus, they’ll still need a little help – from Memphis or Portland – to grab a slots game even if they go 8-0.

Ashley Landis / Associated Press

Remaining opponents: Boston Celtics (August 11), Milwaukee Bucks (August 13)

Grizzlies cheese brings out the Sun that should be long, and I do not feel good about it. They are here for complete convenience. They could lose each of their last two contests and still make an offer to play, as Hollinger scored:

“Memphis will make the game with one win, or one loss to Phoenix and San Antonio, or two losses to Portland and one to Phoenix or San Antonio.

“Memphis clings to the 8th seed with two wins, or one win and one loss for Portland. More unlikely, they are the 8th seed if Portland loses twice and Phoenix and San Antonio both lose to at least once. “

Maybe that still overestimates the Grizzlies’s chances.

They do not have Jaren Jackson Jr. (minced meniscus on left) or Justise Winslow (hip), and Tyus Jones remains sidelined with his right knee injury. Hardly any of their formations make sense anymore. They have a vibe of the Indiana Pacers West, coming out better than talent on the floor, but they’re pretty thin on shooting out, and Dillon Brooks is actively trying to give Grizz fans a heart attack:

Making each of the next two games a special opportunity – and it will likely depend on how the Bucks approach Thursday’s showdown. The Celtics own the Grizzlies’ 2020 first-round pick (sixth-highest defense) and have every reason to emerge victorious. Milwaukee is already scheduled to face the Orlando Magic in the first round and has zero incentive to throw a full cast against Memphis, unless the recently returned Eric Bledsoe needs more reps with the starters.

Consider this a lukewarm assumption that the Grizzlies reveal a way to go 1-1 over the next two games. Ja Morant efficiency 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 great game in it. Or maybe De’Anthony Melton amplifies 37 thefts against a Bucks semi-trial that is probably missing Giannis Antetokounmpo. I do not know. This item is difficult. I’m sorry for everything.

Kevin C. Cox / Associated Press

Remaining opponents: Dallas Mavericks (August 11), Brooklyn Nets (August 13)

He talks about the fragility and the Bol-thin margin for the error of this process that I am most confident in the Blazers charging one of the two points of the game.

Like the Grizzlies, they control their own destiny. Profit ensures their entry. Taking care of Networks should not be a problem. Their full bubble record is not even half of their current full force list. The Mavs, on the other hand, have something to play with – so much so that they want to finish sixth instead of seventh. Things can get ugly for the Blazers if Dallas’s work is in question.

Then again, falling into the Mavericks would not be the end of the world. Portland has other ways in eighth or ninth place – hypotheticals that become exponentially more predisposed if one of the Spurs or Suns will lose on Tuesday.

Maybe the Blazers do not deserve the benefit of the doubt. They rank 20th in the points allowed for 100 properties since the resume and found no way to beat a Clippers team that was sort of, sort of, no doubt trying to help increase their chances after season.

Portland, however, has Damian Lillard, a 40-on-50 footer. CJ McCollum is an offensive weapon in his own right. Jusuf Nurkic is already doing much better in the defensive end. Carmelo Anthony is shooting well. Gary Trent Jr. never, never, never ever lost a three. Opposing offenders are swinging almost 46 percent of their trio open against them. This should be normalized immediately.

This team does not simply look like the most potential football participant. It feels like the favorite to win it.

Unless otherwise stated, courtesy of NBA.com statistics, Basketball Reference or Window Cleaning and current involvement in Friday’s games. Salary information and retention information through Basketball Insider, Bird Rights and Spotrac.

Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@danfavale) and listen to his Knocks on the hardwood podcast, co-hosted by Adam Fromal of B / R.

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