Battle for the 8th Seed in the West

The battle for the 8th Seed in the West

  • Eastern Conference
  • Memphis grizzlies
  • NBA
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Portland Trail Balzers
  • Sacramento Kings
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Western Conference
By Alexander Landowski June 25, 2020 0 Comment

The NBA has invited 22 teams to Orlando for completion of the season.

Nine Eastern Conference and 13 Western Conference will enter the NBA bubble in Orlando. Of the teams in the West, six are playing for the 8th playoff seed. The victor in that battle will likely face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

The 22 teams will play the next eight games on their schedule against other qualifiers to conclude the season. If their next scheduled opponent is not one of the 22, it is skipped until the next qualifier on their schedule. A review of upcoming team schedules already reveals the need for NBA modification in some cases.

The new play-in tournament

An interesting element of the creative return to action is the potential for a play-in mini tournament. Essentially, if the 9th seed finishes the regular season within four games of the 8th seed, the play-in occurs. The league has made it clear that only two teams per conference can qualify for the special play-in tournament.

Under the newly proposed procedures, the play-in tournament will consist of at most two games. The 8th seed will only need to win one game to advance to the regular playoffs. The 9th seed, on the other hand, will need to beat the 8th seed twice.

In the East, the Nets and the Magic sit at numbers seven and eight and are half of a game apart. The Wizards meanwhile trail Orlando by 5.5 games for the 9th seed, leaving some possibility for an Eastern Conference play-in. The West, however, is a different story entirely.

The western combatants

Memphis Grizzlies

When the final schedule begins, the Memphis Grizzlies reside in the 8th spot with a 32-33 record. Led by rookie sensation Ja Morant, the Grizzlies demonstrated solid play during the season despite their youth.

In order to advance to the playoffs, Memphis needs production from someone besides their talented point guard. With a 3.5 game lead over ninth place, the Grizzlies probably need to win half of their remaining games to participate in the potential play-in.

Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers are currently 9th, holding a 29-37 record. The trio of veterans Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Carmelo Anthony provide experience and leadership for the team. Although they’ve disappointed their passionate fanbase in Portland this season, they possess the talent to finish strong.

Lillard, who is one of the best PGs in the league, and McCollum, an offensively skilled SG, are capable of carrying the Blazers to the playoffs. To do so, they will need to overcome a brutal remaining schedule including the Rockets, Mavericks, Celtics, 76ers, and Jazz.

New Orleans Pelicans

The most exciting team contending for the 8th seed could certainly be the New Orleans Pelicans.

Sitting just one game behind the Trail Blazers, they are loaded with promising talent. Their lineup consists of Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. If the young stars on New Orleans play to their potential, they could push their way into the play-in tournament.

Contrary to the difficult schedule of Portland, the Pelicans’ schedule appears favorable.

Sacramento Kings

Tied with the Pelicans when the season resumes, the Sacramento Kings face an uphill battle. In order to achieve success in Orlando, the royal team will need great production from their backcourt duo of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.

Getting quality minutes from former #2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III would enhance Sacramento’s chances, as well. The key to their success will probably come down to the two games scheduled against New Orleans.

San Antonio Spurs

A half game behind the Kings and Pelicans lurks a familiar Western Conference franchise, the San Antonio Spurs. Counting out Gregg Popovich’s team at this point would be ignorant. Frankly, he’s one of the greatest coaches in NBA history.

Besides that, the Spurs have a good veteran presence in shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Additionally, point guard Dejounte Murray is one of the best defending backcourt players in the league at just 23 years old.

Phoenix Suns

Rounding out the field is the Phoenix Suns. Currently six games behind the Grizzlies, they practically need a miracle to reach the play-in. If they find one, it will likely be the result of successful efforts from scoring machine Devin Booker and former #1 overall pick Deandre Ayton. Phoenix may also find needed sparks from fan-favorite Kelly Oubre Jr. off the bench.

While they are a fun team to watch, unless they win all eight games in Orlando, they’re season will end. And even that might not be enough.

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