Highlights: Trail Blazers vs Nets
A wild race for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot will come down to the Blazers and Grizzlies, who both took care of their business on Thursday with wins over the Nets and Bucks, respectively. The Grizzlies cruised past Milwaukee, but the Blazers had to pull out yet another heart-stopper as Brooklyn’s Caris LeVert missed a potential game-winning step-back as time expired.
The Suns, meanwhile, finished their seeding games 8-0 with a win over Dallas, but their hole coming into the bubble was just barely too big to crawl out from, and they’ll head back to the desert, despite being the only undefeated team at Walt Disney World. San Antonio was eliminated once Memphis and Phoenix both won, making their loss to Utah a moot point.
There will be lots of clamoring about the validity of a bubble that doesn’t reward a team that went undefeated, but we know this was an extension of the regular season. The Suns earned the 39 losses they entered Orlando with the same as they earned the eight wins inside. To me, this bubble experience was about entertainment. The race for the play-in series made these games so exciting, and it is through that prism that I believe one more game between Phoenix and Memphis for the right to play Portland would be in keeping with the spirit of this restart. But these eight games were a great run either way.
So now the top-seeded Lakers sit back and wait to see who their opponent will be in the 1-8 matchup. All other matchups are set. Here’s a look at the final standings and first-round playoff matchups.
vs. Grizzlies (Play-in)
vs. Blazers (Play-in)
Speaking to the play-in series between Portland and Memphis, it’s simple: The Blazers, as the higher seed, only have to beat the Grizzlies once to secure the final payoff spot, while the Grizzlies have to beat Portland twice. Game 1 of that series is set for Saturday at 2:30 ET.