Blazers, Grizzlies To Meet For Play-In Tournament

The Trail Blazers, the West’s eighth seed, will now face off against the ninth-seeded Grizzlies in the first of two potential play-in tournament games on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CT on ABC.

After an injury-plagued year, the Trail Blazers rode an impressive showing during their eight Orlando seeding games to a play-in tournament appearance as the West’s No. 8 seed. Portland defeated the Nets in a 134-133 nail-biter on Thursday, bringing the club’s Disney World record to 6-2.

The Blazers’ lone All-Star, Damian Lillard, poured in 42 points on Thursday and averaged a blistering 37.6 PPG during the eight seeding games, as the team wrapped up its cumulative regular season with a 35-39 finish

Despite a lackluster 2-6 showing in the seeding games, the Grizzlies had enough of a head start going into the restart to secure a play-in tournament berth, finishing the season with a 34-39 record.

Probable Rookie of the Year Ja Morant and starting center Jonas Valanciunas each posted triple doubles in a 119-106 vanquishing of the Bucks today. A one-game suspension prevented Milwaukee All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo from suiting up against Memphis.

Per new rules developed for the NBA’s Orlando restart, Portland will enter the play-in tournament as the No. 8 seed and will need to win just one game against Memphis to advance to a first-round playoff matchup against the top-seeded Lakers next week.

If the No. 9 Grizzlies win on Saturday, there would be a second play-in game on Sunday between the two clubs. The winner of that second contest would face off against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and company in a best-of-seven first round series.

Lillard has been the standout for the Trail Blazers, but center Jusuf Nurkic and power forward Zach Collins have proven to be crucial contributors upon returning from season-long injuries. Additionally, despite their limitations on defense, shooting guard CJ McCollum and small forward Carmelo Anthony will be tough covers for the Grizzlies’ young wings.

Morant will need to bear the brunt of Memphis’ offensive burden after Jaren Jackson Jr. suffered a season-ending meniscus tear last week. The Grizzlies will also be without Justise Winslow (hip) for the rest of the season and didn’t have backup point guard Tyus Jones (knee) available during the seeding games.

Despite being the only team to win all eight of its Disney World seeding games, the Suns narrowly missed out on an opportunity to make the play-in tournament. Phoenix finished its season with a 34-39 record thanks to a 128-102 drubbing of the Mavericks on Thursday. All-Star Suns guard Devin Booker and promising second-year center Deandre Ayton both impressed, complemented by a stellar young roster.

The Grizzlies, having won three of four games against the Suns during the regular season, had the tiebreaker edge over Phoenix, earning the right to compete in this weekend’s play-in.

The Spurs, meanwhile, missed the postseason for the first time since 1997, ending a 22-year playoff run that was easily the NBA’s longest active streak. San Antonio entered the restart planning to focus more on player development than on making the postseason, but played well, posting a 5-3 summer record. Head coach Gregg Popovich said after Thursday’s finale that he was very pleased with his club’s performance during the restart, per Eric Woodyard of ESPN.

“I’m more excited about this than anything you guys are talking about right now, successes or non-successes, because the success for streaks or whatever the hell you’re talking about ended,” Popovich said. “I could care less about that. I’m thrilled at the way they played here.”

Once either the Trail Blazers or Grizzlies win the play-in tournament, all eight first-round playoff matchups will be finalized. Details on the other seven series can be found right here.

The Suns, Spurs, and the loser of the play-in tournament will be part of the NBA’s draft lottery next Thursday, sorted by their records as of March 11. That means Phoenix will be 10th in the lottery standings, San Antonio will be 11th, and the Portland/Memphis loser will be 14th.

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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38 thoughts on “Blazers, Grizzlies To Meet For Play-In Tournament

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      That really sucks for Phoenix, but hopefully the Blazers will win the first game against Memphis then play well against the Lakers.

    • specialfriedrice

      I agree there was never enough information about the specifics of the ‘play in tournament’…at one stage it was said teams within 4 games of the 8th seed would play in a tournament, not really a ‘tournament’ when it consists of two teams…Suns earned a chance fair and square and Portland earnt the 8th seed outright too.

      Really would have to preferd to see something like POR vs SA and MEM vs PHO, loss and your out would have been exciting, the way they have done it is completely pointless…

      • SheaGoodbye

        What are you talking about? Everyone knew the format of the play-in tournament/whatever you wanna call it before entering the bubble. There were no surprises. It sounds like you wanted the NBA to change the rules on the fly, which is ludicrous.

        It is what it is in this COVID season.

        • specialfriedrice

          What are you talking about?
          Well that’s pretty obvious
          Everyone knew the format of the play-in tournament/whatever you wanna call it before entering the bubble.
          Except me apparently
          There were no surprises. It sounds like you wanted the NBA to change the rules on the fly, which is ludicrous.
          You clearly do not read every article then
          It is what it is in this COVID season.
          It is, it’s also called Influenza my friend…do you call a Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias…

          Take away your first sentence and then post doesn’t make you come across like such a dic.

          • Curtisrowe

            Don’t get all mad just because you put up a ridiculous post and someone called you on it.

            • SheaGoodbye

              Honestly, I didn’t mind it. When someone has to do this level of gymnastics to support their position:

              Except me apparently

              You clearly do not read every article then

              It is, it’s also called Influenza my friend…do you call a Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias…

              It’s almost entertaining. Or it would be if, you know, these same people weren’t helping to spread a pandemic and screwing over everyone else.

  1. Sillivan

    Next season Blazers and Warriors move up on standings
    If Suns or Pelicans want to make playoffs they will need to win more games than Mavs

  2. GoLandCrabs

    Blazers are getting way too much hype for a team below 500. Lakers smoked them twice in Portland. They only lost to them once because it was the first game after Kobes death.

    • x_burner_X

      People just need headlines and clickbaits. No one really thinks blazers can beat LA

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        Looks like someone hasn’t been paying any attention to the seeding games. The Lakers look terrible right now and are still missing key players. No one should be surprised to see them miss the WCF, or perhaps even lose to Portland in the first round.

        • GoLandCrabs

          The Lakers are missing a few role players and you are acting like that’s worse than the Rockets not having Westbrook. LOL your bias isn’t showing at all.

        • washington_bonercats

          We must not have been paying attention? Lakers clinched the west like 2 days into the bubble why would they play hard at all? And you clearly missed the news that CJ is playing with A FRACTURED BACK. Dame’s back will get there soon enough the way he’s carrying that team. 4-1 Lakers

    • mrshyguy99

      if you havent seen they have a few players back who were hurt before the shut down.

  3. KnickerbockerAl

    I can’t believe LeVert missed that shot. Can’t believe Nets showed up. I wanted Suns cause CJ was hurt. But he scored 25 played 43 mins. They said his back is fractured. Dam oh well, they must know right. CJ plays 36 mins they can beat Lakers. You know Nurkic just came back. He’s a avg like 20 n 10. Collins is back. Lakers will be tested.

    • x%sure

      The fracture is not at a crucial spot on the vertabrae bone. It’s on the horozontal bracing part. I’m sure it hurts though.

      Blazers did it with a relatively big lineup. Watch the Pacers beat the odds vs Miami in the EC with two bigs. The Cavs may be doing it with Larry Nance as a 3!

      • KnickerbockerAl

        I’m no doctor. But when you fracture and back. That sounds serious. But he play lot of mins. Gotta say Blazers are more ready to compete that Lakers. But you gotta win 4. I mean I give them a shot. Just cause they been playing. Got players back. Even Melo is playing well. Love to see seven gm series.

  4. C-Daddy

    The Blazers’ defense is atrocious. I don’t see them doing much in the playoffs.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      The Lakers’ defense is missing one of its most important pieces in Avery Bradley, although most people insist on downplaying what an integral part of the team he truly was. They still have a solid interior defense with AD of course, but aside from Danny Green the perimeter defense is lacking.

      • x%sure

        Laker players are not stepping up. Hoping they have been putting it off to later.

        • GABEPERKINS1

          Bucks went 3-5 in bubble.. nobody freaking out about them heading into playoffs.. lakers went thru games of not playing starters big minutes, sitting players, etc.. lakers will be ready come playoff time.. the only thing that makes me nervous is missing bradley.. he is a key defensive player.. kcp isn’t a starter.. he is much better playing against teams 2nd units

      • KnickerbockerAl

        Missing Bradley n Rondo against. Dame and CJ definitely hurts. This going to be a series lol. Better not look past Grizz. Blazers only need to win one gm. Grizz two. So if over Sat. They rest two day for Laker gm Tuesday.

  5. GABEPERKINS1

    What really sucks is portland played one more game than the suns or grizzlies.. they ended up 1/2 game ahead of Phoenix.. if there games are identical, 3 way tie for 8th spot..

    • x%sure

      They’re both 34-39 total, but I agree.
      Tiebreakers should have been tied to bubble play, not RS play.
      8-0 Suns should be in, and I’m a Griz fan. Well they have an uphill battle anyway.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      And the Spurs played two fewer games as well, but they were already eliminated once Phoenix and Memphis both won.

      • mlbnyyfan

        Let’s see next season if the Suns are for real. If not deal Booker to NYK.

      • GABEPERKINS1

        They should’ve had a mini tournament between the teams.. pelicans, kings, spurs suns and blazers to determine 9 seed for play in.. one thing for certain, suns booker became a superstar leaving bubble

        • wagner13

          But that diminishes the value of the regular season prior to the restart. Sure, the Grizzlies didn’t play well in the bubble. However, they were significantly better than any of those teams earlier in the season. Consequently, they began the bubble with a larger cushion. If the Suns wanted to make the postseason, they should’ve beaten us more than once in the regular season

  6. KnickerbockerAl

    Stop with the Booker trades. The man has become a legit star. I’d love to have him on Knicks. Suns ain’t moving him. Suns are for real. Future is bright. Ayton is legit and hasn’t showed yet.

    • mlbnyyfan

      We will see if they are legit next year. Most teams they played had nothing to play for. The Mavericks were already locked into there seeding so why try to win.

  7. hiflew

    So now that the Spurs no longer have the longest active playoff streak, who does? I haven’t looked, but my gut says Indiana.

  8. hiflew

    Okay now I looked, It’s Houston with 8. Followed by Toronto at 7. Indy only has 4. Just goes to show why research is almost always better than gut feelings.

  9. KnickerbockerAl

    They should have more gms on TV. We missed half a season. They should at least show all gms Sat and Sun. NBA is missing out. They are only sport doing it right IMO. Showcase it .

  10. mdunkel

    8-0 see ya. What a joke they have made of all of this. Just another screwing for the Suns and their fans from the NBA.

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