During the NBA restart, five teams were gunning for the #8 playoff seed in the Western Conference. Led by an unstoppable Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers seized the #8 seed, while the Memphis Grizzlies struggled but still held on to the #9 seed. Both teams will meet in an NBA postseason play-in game to determine the opponent for the #1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Portland went 6-2 inside the NBA Bubble since the restart began two weeks ago. Memphis struggled with a 2-6 clip during the restart.
The NBA postseason play-in game format only kicked in for the Western Conference because no teams in the Eastern Conference were within 2.5 games of the #8 seed. The #9 seed must win two games in the play-in series to advance, while the #8 seed only needs one to stay alive and advance.
The winner of the west play-in series faces the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. The remainder of the NBA playoffs commence on Monday.
Memphis Grizzlies (34-39) at Portland Trail Blazers (35-39)
Tip-off: 11:30 AM PT
Location: Disney World of Sports, Orlando, FL
Point Spread: POR -6
Over/Under Total: 232.5
Money Line: POR -260 / MEM +220
If the Grizzlies win on Saturday, there will be a second and final play-in game on Sunday at 1:30 PM PT.
The Trail Blazers are 55/1 odds to win the NBA Championship, according to a recent update by William Hill. The Memphis Grizzlies are the longest long shot on the board at 325/1 odds to win the NBA title.
Lillard set a rare record earlier in the week with back-to-back 50-point games. Dame dropped 51 against the Philadelphia Sixers, then exploded for 61 against the Dallas Mavericks. Only a dozen players in NBA history have ever pulled that off.
Lillard became only the second player in NBA history — after Wilt Chamberlin — to score three 60-plus point games in a season.
A vocal Lillard initially expressed his displeasure with an NBA restart unless the Blazers had a legitimate shot at a postseason berth. He’s now one victory away from securing a spot in the opening round against LeBron James and the Lakers.
Only the Memphis Grizzlies stand in Portland and Lillard’s way of a showdown with the Lakers.
Limp Grizzlies, JJJ Dunzo
Jaren Jackson, Jr. looked good in his second NBA season. Jackson averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game as the Grizzlies’ starting power forward this season. The Griz took a huge blow when Jackson tore his meniscus. In the first three games in the restart, JJJ averaged 25 points per game.
With Jackson down, center Jonas Valanciunas stepped up. In a victory over the Milwaukee Bucks to clinch the #9 spot, Valanciunas posted a triple-double with 26 points, 19 rebounds, and 12 assists.
Point guard Ja Morant secured a triple-double in the clutch victory for the Griz. Morant scored 12 points and added 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
Morant locked up the NBA Rookie of the Year by averaging 17.8 points, 7.3 assists, and 3.9 rebounds. He’ll now get his first taste of the ultra-competitive NBA postseason by squaring off against Portland’s dynamic duo — Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Sizzling Suns Bubble, Pelicans Fade
The Phoenix Suns were the hottest team at Disney. They went 8-0 as the only undefeated team inside the bubble, and came close to securing a spot in the play-in game. The Suns also went 8-0 against the spread thanks to Devin Booker. Booker knocked down a buzzer-beater to upset the Clippers last week.
Kendall Jenner once again proved she’s a good luck charm. Before the NBA bubble began, Jenner and Booker were spotted at one of Malibu’s top sushi joints.
The suits at the NBA and its media partners wanted to see the New Orleans Pelicans get a shot at the play-in game. Zion Williamson and the Pelicans failed in their bid to land a spot in the opening round against LeBron and the Lakers. The team didn’t look good upon their return to the hardwood, going 2-6 in the restart. The Pels were one of the first bubble teams eliminated from playoff contention.