NBA Playoffs 2020: Grizzlies vs. Blazers Play-In Game Schedule, Live Stream

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2020

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard reacts after making a 3-point basket against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

Twenty-two NBA teams were invited to play in the NBA bubble to finish the regular season and determine the seeding for the playoffs. As of Friday, five of them are preparing to go home, eliminated from contention. The weekend will see a sixth team join them.

The Portland Trail Blazers (35-39) and Memphis Grizzlies (34-39) will face off in a play-in series for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. The NBA added this wrinkle to add some intrigue to the restart, stipulating that a ninth-seeded team that finished within four games of the eighth seed would get a chance to steal their spot in the postseason.

Despite a furious 8-0 run by the Phoenix Suns inside the bubble, the Blazers and Grizzlies were able to get the wins they needed Thursday night to set up the matchup (no team in the East qualified for a play-in game).

Here's how the play-in works: The Grizzlies, as the ninth seed, have to beat the Blazers twice to make the playoffs. The Blazers just have to win once. If they win Saturday, there is no second game Sunday. The winner of the play-in will take on the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the postseason.


Play-in Round Schedule

Game 1

Time: 2:30 p.m. ET


Live stream: ESPN (subscription required)


Game 2 (if necessary)

Time: 4:30 p.m. ET


Live stream: ESPN (subscription required)


If recent form is any indication, the Grizzlies are in trouble. Sure, they notched an impressive (and necessary) 119-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, but overall they have gone just 2-6 inside the bubble. Memphis will also be playing without Jaren Jackson Jr., who tore his meniscus just three games into the restart.

To make matters worse for the Grizzlies, they happen to be running into the hottest player in the bubble: Damian Lillard. Portland's leading man has been brilliant over the past three games, scoring 51 against the Philadelphia 76ers, 61 against the Dallas Mavericks and then 42 points against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday. The Blazers won all three games by three points or fewer. According to ESPN Stats & Info, no one has ever closed out a season like Dame Time:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Damian Lillard's scoring totals in the Blazers last three games: 51, 61, 42. His 154 points are the most any player has scored in their final three games of a season. He is also the first player in NBA history to end the regular season with 3 straight 40-point games. https://t.co/SPIdWKPN2x

Lillard is the most valuable player in the bubble right now, even when he's taking shots that would be silly and wasteful in just about any other context.


Logo Lillard is back at it ⌚️ https://t.co/A5JxPhDHC5

It's not just scoring. The 30-year-old superstar is averaging 9.6 assists per game in Disney World, and he had 12 against the Nets on Thursday.

"The urgency, the energy, the pace, everything—just felt like something was on the line," Lillard said after the game, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN).

If he can keep the fire lit, Memphis likely won't make it to Sunday. The Grizzlies will have to assume Lillard is going to land his haymakers, and just hope they can contain his teammates. Blazer's shooting guard C.J. McCollum is playing through a back injury and has had some uneven performances, while Carmelo Anthony had just nine point against the Nets after three consecutive 20-point games.

Memphis' best hope is to turn this game into a shootout, as the Blazers have been playing some awful defense. Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas both had triple-doubles against the Bucks on Saturday (yes, both of them), and either player is talented enough to take over a game.

A true wild card is Grizzlies shooting guard Dillon Brooks. He stepped up to score 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting against the Bucks, making up for his previous two games in which he shot a combined 39 percent from the floor (including 21.4 percent from three-point range). If he can score efficiently, it would go a long way toward helping the Grizzlies upset Lillard and the Blazers twice over the weekend.