The Blazers took care of business on Thursday, beating the Brooklyn Nets 134-133. In doing so, the Blazers locked in the 8th seed in the playoffs and a play-in series with the Memphis Grizzlies.
It will all be on the line this weekend with two teams battling it out for one open spot and a chance to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
As the current team in eighth place, the Blazers have an advantage. There will potentially be two games played for the play-in, but Portland only has to win one. Memphis, on the other hand, has to win twice. Game 1 is scheduled for Saturday, August 15 at 11:30 a.m. PT, and Game 2 (if necessary) is scheduled for Sunday, August 16 at 1:30 p.m. PT.
The winner of the play-in will go on to face the No.1 Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, with the first game taking place on Tuesday, August 18th.
HOW DID WE GET HERE:
Back on July 31st the Blazers and Grizzlies played their first of eight seeding games to finish the season. They happened to play each other that night, with the Blazers earning the 140-135 overtime victory.
With seven games left, the Blazers trailed Memphis by just 2.5 games. According to the NBA rules for the seeding games, all Portland had to do to force a play-in game was finish in ninth place and be within four games of the eighth-place team. However, the Grizzlies stumbled, going 2-6 in Orlando. The Blazers took advantage, going 6-2, and passed Memphis in the standings.
Many experts thought Portland would rely on the play-in, but now it's Memphis benefitting from the rule. The irony of it all is that prior to the seeding games starting, Memphis star Ja Morant said the play-in series was unfair.
Honestly, I don’t think so, but we can't control that. Only thing we can control is how, you know, we go out and attack each of these games before that decision is made. -- Memphis rookie Ja Morant on fairness of play-in games
The unfair play-in could now help Morant get into the playoffs. Funny how that works.
However, Morant and the Grizzlies would have to beat the Blazers twice, on back to back nights. No easy feat.
The two teams meant twice this season, with each team picking up a victory.
Game 1: Saturday, August 15 at 11:30 a.m. PT
Game 2 (if necessary): Sunday, August 16 at 1:30 p.m. PT
The winner of the play-in gets the reward, if it can be called that, of playing the No.1 Los Angeles Lakers.
The schedule for the first-round series is as follows:
GAME 1: Tuesday 8/18 6pm
GAME 2: Thursday 8/20 6pm
GAME 3: Saturday 8/22 5:30pm
GAME 4: Monday 8/24 6pm
GAME 5 (if necessary): Wednesday 8/26 TBD
GAME 6 (if necessary: Friday 8/28 TBD
GAME 7 (if necessary: Sunday 8/30 TBD
The Grizzlies went 1-3 against the Lakers this season, while the Blazers went 1-2.