NBA Playoff Picture 2020: Play-In Scenarios for Suns, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2020

Memphis Grizzlies Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) and Portland Trail Blazers CJ McCollum (3) compete for a jump ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, July 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via AP)
Mike Ehrmann/Associated Press

Approaching the final week of seeding games, the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers have emerged as the likeliest candidates to earn the final NBA playoff place in the Western Conference.

The Grizzlies sit in eighth, with a 1.5-game lead over the Blazers and a two-game advantage on the Suns. Simply holding firm won't be enough to guarantee a postseason berth, however, after the league opened the door for a play-in tournament.

The team in eighth automatically qualifies for the playoffs only if it has a lead of more than four games on the team in ninth. As a result, the Suns and Blazers can still claw their way into the first round even if they wind up outside of the top eight.

At the very least, the Grizzlies can clinch a play-in spot by beating the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. The two teams tip off at 2 p.m. ET.

The Suns are charging hard on the Blazers.

Phoenix is 5-0 since the NBA restarted the season in Orlando, Florida, while Portland ceded valuable ground in a 122-117 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, who were without Kawhi Leonard. Damian Lillard missed two free throws that would've given the Blazers the lead inside the final 20 seconds.

Portland remains in the driver's seat based on overall winning percentage. The Blazers (32-39) are a half-game ahead of the Suns (31-39) with three games remaining. Here's how the rest of their regular season looks:



Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Tuesday, Aug. 11 at Dallas Mavericks

Thursday, Aug. 13 at Brooklyn Nets



Monday, Aug. 10 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Tuesday, Aug. 11 at Philadelphia 76ers

Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Dallas Mavericks


If the Blazers win out, they'll face off with the Grizzlies in the play-in tournament. Should they falter once again, the Suns could leapfrog them in the standings and thus have the inside track.

Portland can't clinch anything Sunday but could end the playoff hopes for a pair of teams.

Should the Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers, they'll eliminate the Sacramento Kings. A victory for Portland would also send the New Orleans Pelicans packing if the Pelicans also lose to the San Antonio Spurs.