NBA Announces Western Conference Playoff Play-In Game Schedule, TV Info, More

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2020

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) dribbles during the second half against the LA Clippers in an NBA basketball game Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

The Western Conference is going to feature a play-in battle for the final playoff spot in this unusual season, and the NBA announced the official schedule for the one- or two-game series.

According to Shakeemah Simmons-Winter of ESPN, ABC will air the first game between the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET. If the No. 8 seed wins, it will advance to the playoffs to face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. 

However, there will be a second game Sunday if the No. 9 seed wins, which ESPN will air at 4:30 p.m. ET. If there is a second game, it will be a winner-take-all affair for that last postseason spot.

While there have been plenty of intriguing storylines at Walt Disney World Resort during the seeding games, including the emergence of T.J. Warren, the battle for LA between the Lakers and Clippers and teams battling for positioning in the standings, the race for the Western Conference's final playoff spot looms as the biggest.

The Memphis Grizzlies have seen their grip on the No. 8 seed collapse with a 1-5 record through six games in Florida.

They are just one game ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers and three or less games ahead of the Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. Entering the league's restart, the rule was put in place the No. 9 seed had to be within four games of the No. 8 seed to force the play-in tournament following eight seeding games for each team.

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That means the race for the No. 9 seed is just as important with so many teams still alive with a handful of games remaining. Only one can challenge the eventual No. 8 seed for that final spot.

Portland would pose a challenge to the Lakers in the first round with a dynamic backcourt of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Gary Trent Jr. to go with a healthier frontcourt featuring Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins.

New Orleans has Zion Williamson, San Antonio has a pedigree of success and Sacramento has plenty of young playmakers who figure to challenge in the West in the years to come. Then there is Phoenix, who is yet to lose a game in Florida at 5-0 with Devin Booker leading the way as an elite scorer who can take over at a moment's notice.

Ja Morant and the Grizzlies may have to face any one of these threats, and that is assuming they don't completely fall out of the No. 8 or 9 seed with continued struggles.