The NBA play-in tournament has been attracting a lot of attention following a crazy stack up for 8th and 9th seed in the Western Conference.
The NBA Bubble is off to a great start and with no positive cases so far this has been a success story. One of its kind. It is now reaching to the business end now and while everyone is wondering who will be the team’s and matchups going into the playoffs, one very interesting struggle that the world is betting on is who will be the 8th seed in Western conference.
Teams are vying for that 9th seed too, so as to enter the NBA play-in tournament, one that would take place only if the 9th seed is less than 4 games behind the 8th seed.
The 9th seed will then have to beat the 8th side in two consecutive head-to-head games.
The Eastern conference wouldn’t even be worth a mention in this conversation when it was known that Beal won’t be joining the Wizards in the bubble.
Now, to be realistic, it’s far from time for the Los Angeles Lakers to panic, but following a 113-97 loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday, they’re now 2-3 in the NBA’s reboot. And as of the moment this article is being written, TJ Warren is toasting them like he has toasted the other teams.
This season, the Lakers are plus- 9.2 points per 100 possessions with LeBron on the floor and minus -0.5 with him of and whom they will face the in the first round would go a long way in determining how they would fare in the playoffs. The tougher the matchup the less margin for error for LeBron and Co.
NBA Play-in tournament odds
Following Thursday’s action, the squads still in the hunt for a first matchup against LeBron and Anthony Davis were broken down by FiveThirtyEight’s projection system as follows:
- Portland Trail Blazers (68 percent)
- Memphis Grizzlies (14 percent)
- Phoenix Suns (4 percent)
- San Antonio Spurs (less than 1 percent)
These four teams are in contention for the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference playoffs, after Pelicans and Kings were eliminated tonight following a loss for both teams.
Grizzlies, Blazers, Suns or Spurs?
The Suns, the Cinderella story, entered the bubble in 13th place and have won their first four games, including an impressive, buzzer-beating upset over the LA Clippers on Tuesday. Important to note they are the only unbeaten team in the bubble currently.
— 5-0 (@Suns) August 9, 2020
While Grizzlies and Pelicans entered the bubble as two of the favorites (the Blazers were the third) to force a play-in tournament. However, neither team has gotten off to a good start. And the Memphis team lost Jaren Jackson to an injury and it looks more likely that they might just not even make in play in tournament.
Add the Blazers, and Spurs have all gotten off to hot starts in the bubble as well and are within 3 games or fewer of the eighth and final playoff spot. One thing of solace that the Pelicans have, is the easiest schedule.
With five or six games remaining for each team, the race to the finish has the chance to be exciting and every match counts now.
Again reiterating that the Suns are the only 4-0 team in the bubble, and don’t play a team ranked higher than fourth place in either conference the rest of the way.
Damian Lillard and the Blazers are 2-1 in the bubble with impressive wins over the Grizzlies and Houston Rockets. The Blazers are finally turning up for the show and with mostly healthy starcast , after missing their starting front-court of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins for the entire season. And look to be the most dangerous team for an eight seed with a leaner and meaner Melo.
Meanwhile, the Popovich coached Spurs have also pulled off two impressive wins in the bubble after being written off heading into the resumption of the season. The San Antonio Spurs have a 22-year playoff streak on the line. The Maestro Gregg Popovich has gone small and gotten great guard play to thrust his team back into the playoff mix with Aldridge missing in action.
The Spurs have a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way, including a big game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.
Memphis has been the surprise team of the NBA season so far with the emergence of Ja Morant, but the layoff hasn’t served them well. The team’s two most important players Dillion Brooks and Ja Morant have not shot the ball well and it shows that they are going through a nervous cycle.
The Pelicans also began the bubble 0-2 before picking up a big win over the Grizzlies on Monday. Much of the coverage of the Pelicans has focused on the minutes limit on Zion Williamson. The 2019 No. 1 pick sat out the end of the first game of the bubble, as the Pelicans blew a late lead to the Jazz. He finally played the end of a game over Memphis, but this time management issue is hurting the Pelicans and they don’t see in real rhythm despite having a really strong squad on paper.
Who will end up facing the Lakers in the first round still remains a mystery and it might still go down to the last day of the seeding stage. But this actually has made the bubble more relevant and interesting apart from the Vlogs and Instagram posts coming from the NBA stars on and off. And we all would have to wait to see who turns up and who fizzles out in the remaining games.