NBA Playoffs 2020: Blazers vs. Grizzlies Play-in Game Format, Rules, More

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2020

Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard (0) shoots the ball against Memphis Grizzlies Brandon Clarke (15) 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

If the Western Conference's play-in series is even half as exciting as Thursday's action, NBA fans will be in for a treat.

The Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns all had a chance to earn a spot in the play-in series depending on how Thursday's games unfolded. They were all victorious but San Antonio, which means the Grizzlies will face the Trail Blazers.

It was Portland's 134-133 victory over the Brooklyn Nets that stood out the most, as the Trail Blazers were down by double digits in the second half before Damian Lillard once again put his team on his back with 42 points and 12 assists behind 8-of-14 shooting from three-point range.

When Caris LeVert's buzzer-beater drew nothing but iron, Portland clinched its spot and eliminated Phoenix.

Here is a look at the schedule for the play-in series.


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Game 1: No. 8 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies, Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Game 2*: No. 8 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 9 Memphis Grizzlies, Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

*if necessary


When the NBA decided to restart its season at Walt Disney World Resort, it put the play-in series in place because teams would not finish their entire 82-game schedule. The rules stated that the No. 9 seed would have the opportunity to face the No. 8 seed for that final playoff spot if there were less than four games separating them.

While the Washington Wizards were unable to remain within four games in the Eastern Conference, Memphis' 2-6 mark created a crowded field in the West as it lost its grip on the No. 8 spot.

The Trail Blazers will be the No. 8 seed, which means they have to win just one of the two games to clinch their position in the playoffs. Memphis will have to win both contests to advance.

The winner of the play-in series will face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

That means a meeting with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Co. with the King looking to take the first step toward a fourth career title.

It's not exactly a welcome prize for the winner of the clash between Lillard's team and Ja Morant's Grizzlies, but Portland is playing well enough that it could create some intrigue. If nothing else, the Lakers would have to worry about Lillard taking over in Dame Time come the fourth quarter if the Trail Blazers advance.