Poll: Which Western Team Will Claim No. 8 Seed?

After moving to two games above .500 for the first time this season heading into the All-Star break, the Grizzlies lost four consecutive games on a post-All-Star road trip and now hold a 28-30 record. They still have the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA, according to Tankathon.com, and they’re missing two of their most important rotation players, as Jaren Jackson and Brandon Clarke are both sidelined with injuries.

It all points to a team that looks vulnerable to losing its hold on the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Especially since there are five challengers within 4.5 games of Memphis in the standings, ready to make a run at that eighth seed.

So far though, none of those challengers has gotten on the sort of run that really closes the gap with the Grizzlies. The closest current threats are the Trail Blazers (26-34) and Pelicans (25-33), who are each three games back of the No. 8 spot.

Portland lost its star player, Damian Lillard, to a groin injury at an inopportune time, and has dropped five of its last six games, but the All-Star guard could be back by early next week and the Blazers have the NBA’s third-easiest schedule the rest of the way, per Tankathon. Lillard is probably the best player on any of the six teams competing for the No. 8 slot, so if he gets on another hot streak like the one he was riding before his injury, it’s possible he’ll shoot the Blazers into the playoffs.

New Orleans is a more popular playoff pick, however, in large part because the team has looked rejuvenated since getting No. 1 pick Zion Williamson into its lineup. Adding Williamson to a group that already features Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram gives the Pelicans the most dangerous “Big Three” of any of the playoff competitors, and their schedule is the league’s second-easiest down the stretch, according to Tankathon. Still, it’s worth noting that the Pelicans are a modest 7-6 when Zion plays, so it’s not as if his return has transformed them into a contender overnight.

While one of those three teams is probably the best bet to earn the West’s final playoff spot, there are a few other teams not far behind. The Spurs (24-33) have a disastrous 10-20 record on the road, but will play 14 of their final 25 games at home and have the league’s sixth-lightest schedule in terms of opponents’ winning percentage. Gregg Popovich‘s squad won’t let its 22-year playoff streak end without a fight.

The Kings (24-34) and Suns (24-35) also still have an outside shot at a playoff berth if they can get hot. Injuries have hit Sacramento hard, with Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley missing for much of the season and De’Aaron Fox now battling an abdominal issue. But they’ve played much better in the last month than they did in the first half, winning nine of their last 14 games. And their end-of-season schedule is favorable — it’s the ninth-easiest, per Tankathon, with 14 of 24 games at home.

Phoenix, meanwhile, will badly miss Kelly Oubre, who had been averaging nearly 19 PPG before going down with a torn meniscus. The Suns are said to be considering free agency options to help replace Oubre, a signal that they haven’t given up on the playoff chase. If they want to stay in the hunt, they’ll need to play well in their next five games, all at home. After that, they finish with 12 of 18 on the road, against a pretty challenging slate of opponents.

What do you think? Will the Grizzlies hang onto the No. 8 seed? Will the rising Pelicans grab it from them? Will last year’s Western Conference finalists, the Trail Blazers, get back into the postseason? Will the Spurs extend their playoff streak to 23 years? Or can the upstart Kings or Suns make an end-of-season run for No. 8?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

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17 thoughts on “Poll: Which Western Team Will Claim No. 8 Seed?

  1. illowa

    Looks like memphis’ gritngrind culture has carried over to this era of players too. Being young and stubborne should bode well even with the toughest schedule. Still have to be looking over their shoulder at new orleons tho, they’ll be able to string some win streaks together with their cupcake schedule.

  2. El Don

    Zion is such a beast that it would be awesome if NOLA makes it to the playoffs & we have a first round match up of Ingram/Zion Vs LBJ/AD… that will be from a galaxy far far away…!!!

  3. GABEPERKINS1

    Grizzlies are in trouble as long as jaren jackson jr is out.. I’m not sold pelicans can pull it off though.. I see them lose a lot of winnable games at the end.. they haven’t learned how to win.. guess Lavar was wrong when he said lonzo neva lost.. he seems to lose a lot.. yet to lead a team to a winning record..

    • jkoms57

      Lonzo has been awesome tho. Cant really blame him.

      Still sickening that Lakers kept Kuzma over him.

      • amk3510

        They didn’t. It had to be Lonzo for cap reasons. The idea they kept Kuzma over Ingram or Zo is dumb. Only Josh Hart and Kuz is better than him.

  4. I really hope the Blazers get that 8th spot.
    They are the only team capable of upsetting the Lakers in the first round out of the teams likely to get the 8th spot.

    Pelicans are to young with Zion, Ingram and Zo. Plus they just don’t match up well, LBJ would destroy Holiday and AD would have his way against Favours.
    Grizzlies are also too young and don’t match up well.

    Whereas the Blazers they could potentially play Whiteside and Nurkic against AD, you’d have Ariza to guard Bron which isn’t great but might work a little. But offensively the Lakers are dreaming if they think Green and Bradley could stop Lillard and McCollum, even Rondo off the bench will have his hands full with Simons. Then Melo against Bron would be a great match up to watch.
    Lillard carried the Blazers over OKC with Russ PG Melo and Adams, Lillard has that ability to just step it up and be unstoppable and I think he would really bring it. Even if they don’t beat the Lakers I could see it being a 6/7 game series which makes the west more entertaining

    • Otogar

      I think the Blazers will get the spot. Lillard will do whatever it takes to win games and once Collins and Nurkic are back, they should improve a lot.

      • Collins is basically out or the year if he comes back it’s going to be late late playoffs and he would be rushed back. Nurkic I think is about 1 week away from playing 15 mins per night

        • Otogar

          The last news I read here is that Zach Collins remained on track to return in March…

        • Just had a look at your correct 7 days ago they posted saying he’s still eyeing March as a return. He’s warming up in pre games and dribbling and shooting but isn’t cleared for contract drills yet and then hopes to return to full trainings in 2/3 weeks.

          Having Collins back would again be another huge bonus as he can play as a big PF and is mobile. Even if can only play 15 mins it would be great to add some space scoring and size for their depth

  5. stevep-4

    No one can stop the San Diego Conquistadors and their excellent player coach.

  6. DynamiteAdams

    Blazers or NOLO. They have each have the personal for the playoffs and have just enough experience and talent to make a push. Grizz are still too young and San Antonio is too old.

  7. harden-westbrook-mvps

    It will come down to either the Pelicans or the Kings.

    The other 4 teams in the hunt are all playing terrible.

  8. shmurdascene

    Grizzlies if I had to guess will hold on to the spot and if they do, Ja Morant should 100% win Rookie of the Year. He should probably win it regardless. If the Grizzlies don’t make it I would like to see the Blazers. Carmelo and Lillard in the playoffs could certainly pull off an upset and even if they didn’t, they are the two biggest stars not currently set to be in the playoffs in the western conference.

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