NBA Playoff Picture: Blazers have inside track on No. 8 seed, Suns need help; all other matchups locked in

We are in for some kind of Thursday night in the Orlando bubble with the race to get into the Western Conference 8-9 play-in series shaping up for a photo finish. Portland controls its own destiny for the No. 8 seed; beat the Nets, and they’re good. If the Blazers were to lose to Brooklyn, it would open the door for any one of Memphis, Phoenix or San Antonio to jump them. 

The race for the No. 9 seed between Memphis, Phoenix and San Antonio will also be decided on Thursday. Memphis controls its own destiny for that, while Phoenix and San Antonio both need a win and some help. 

Reminder: At the conclusion of each team’s eight seeding games, the top seven seeds in each conference will be locked. At that point, if the No. 9 seed is within four games of the No. 8 seed, those two will decide the final spot via a play-in series, with the lower seed having to beat the higher seed twice, but the higher seed only needing to win once. 

Other than the 8-9 play-in series in the West, all other playoff matchups, in both conferences, are set.

*This article will update at the conclusion of each night until the seeding games conclude.

Western Conference

1. Lakers

52-18 (–)

vs. Blazers/Grizzlies

2. Clippers

48-23 (–)

vs. Mavericks

3. Nuggets

46-26 (–)

vs. Jazz

4. Thunder

44-27 (8.5 GB)

vs. Rockets

5. Rockets

44-27 (8.5 GB)

vs. Thunder

6. Jazz

43-28 (–)

vs. Nuggets

7. Mavericks

43-31 (–)

vs. Clippers

8. Blazers

34-39 (–)

vs. Grizzlies (Play-in)

All Western matchups are set other than the 1-8 series, meaning only the Lakers are waiting to see who’ll they’ll play in the first round. As you can see, the Rockets and Thunder can still flip-flop seeds, but it won’t matter as they’re set to play each other in the first round either way and home-court advantage isn’t a factor. 

As for the No. 8 seed/Lakers opponent, if the Blazers beat Brooklyn on Thursday, they’ll be the higher seed in the play-in series, meaning they would only have to beat the No. 9 seed once. If the Blazers lose on Thursday, it would open the door for any one of Memphis, Phoenix or San Antonio to pass them with a win. 

Race for No. 8

9. Grizzlies


.5 GB

10. Suns


.5 GB

11. Spurs


.5 GB

As stated above, Memphis, Phoenix and San Antonio all have a chance to pass Portland for the No. 8 seed with a win and a Portland loss. San Antonio would also need Phoenix and Memphis to lose, while Phoenix would only need Memphis to lose on top of the Blazers. 

But what these teams are most concerned with is at least securing the No. 9 seed so they can get in the play-in series. They are heads-up for that. The Grizzlies control their own destiny, while Phoenix would need a win and a Grizzlies loss. The Spurs would need to beat the Jazz and have both the Grizzlies and Suns lose to make it into the play-in series. 

Thursday’s games:

Blazers: vs. NetsGrizzlies: vs. BucksSuns: vs. MavericksSpurs: vs. Jazz Eastern Conference

1. Bucks


vs. Magic

2. Raptors


vs. Nets

3. Celtics


vs. 76ers

4. Heat


vs. Pacers

5. Pacers


vs. Heat

6. 76ers


vs. Celtics

7. Nets


vs. Raptors

8. Magic


vs. Bucks

The Eastern Conference matchups are locked in. 

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