Portland Trail Blazers

Eye on the 8: A look at Western Conference teams vying for playoffs

Portland Trail Blazers

It’s time for another ‘Eye on the 8’ with your one-stop-shop for everything surrounding the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference as we take a look at the Trail Blazers road to the postseason as well as the other teams vying for a playoff berth. 

Through the first full weekend of NBA restart games, the Trail Blazers and Spurs are closing the gap on the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West, while Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans continue to lose ground.

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]

   

The NBA's play-in games if necessary will be played on Aug. 15-16.

Which it looks like the play-in games are definitely going to happen.

How do the play-in games work??

If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage (regular season games and seeding games) in a conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage, then the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage will earn the eighth and final playoff spot and no Play-In Game(s) would be needed.

 

Here’s a look at how each team who is battling for the final playoff spot out West is stacking up against each other heading into Monday’s slate of games:

Portland Trail Blazers

Seeding Games Record: 1-1

Overall Record: 30-38 (.441)

Current Title odds: +7500 

The Blazers were riding high after their win over Memphis, but the question now is: Will the Blazers run out of gas in these seeding games? Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are averaging over 43 minutes per game.

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Grizzlies – Blazers WON, 140-135
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Celtics – Blazers LOST, 128-124
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4 vs. Rockets 
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Nuggets 
  • Saturday, Aug. 8 vs. Clippers  
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. 76ers 
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Mavericks 
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Nets 

San Antonio Spurs

Seeding Games Record: 2-0

Overall Record: 29-36 (.446)

Current Title Odds: +100000

Heading into the NBA restart, Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento were all three-and-a-half games behind the Grizzlies.

But now, after teams have played at least two games, the San Antonio Spurs have entered the conversation.

With the Spurs being discarded as a team not to make a push for the play-in games, DeMar DeRozan said not so fast.

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Kings – Spurs WON, 129-120
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Grizzlies – Spurs WON, 108-106
  • Tuesday, Aug. 3 vs. 76ers
  • Thursday, Aug. 5 vs. Nuggets
  • Saturday, Aug. 7 vs. Jazz
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Pelicans
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Rockets 
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Jazz 

DeRozan was clutch in Sunday’s contest against the Grizzlies, knocking down two go-ahead free throws with a second left.

Through two games, DeRozan is averaging 20.5 points and 8.5 assists.

Two games in, and the Spurs have now jumped the Blazers for the ninth spot out West and are only two games back of Memphis.

San Antonio has been to the playoffs in 22 consecutive seasons, matching the longest streak in NBA history.

The Spurs are without All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge who was second on the team in scoring (18.9 points) and first in rebounding (7.4).

Memphis Grizzlies

Seeding Games Record: 0-2

Overall Record: 32-35 (.478)

Current Title odds: +50000

The Trail Blazers and Spurs have already exposed how young and inexperienced this Grizzlies team is, especially when it comes to playoff experience.  

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Blazers – Grizzlies LOST, 140-135
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Spurs – Grizzlies LOST, 108-106
  • Monday, Aug. 3 vs. Pelicans
  • Wednesday, Aug. 5 vs. Jazz
  • Friday, Aug. 7 vs. Thunder
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Raptors
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Celtics
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Bucks

New Orleans Pelicans 

Seeding Games Record: 0-2

Overall Record: 28-38 (.424)

Current Title Odds: +5000

New Orleans has struggled out of the gate in Orlando.  

But, we know the NBA would love to get a LeBron James vs. Zion Williamson matchup in the first round. New Orleans was without their rookie superstar until last week when he returned to the Bubble after he left Orlando for a family emergency. 

Zion has been on a minutes restriction in the first two games, averaging 14.5 minutes per game. In the Pelicans' loss to the Clippers Saturday, Zion finished with seven points and five rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

Schedule: 

  • Thursday, July 30 vs. Jazz – Pelicans LOST, 106-104
  • Saturday, Aug. 1 vs. Clippers – Pelicans LOST, 126-103
  • Monday, Aug. 3 vs. Grizzlies
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Kings
  • Friday, Aug. 7 vs. Wizards
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Spurs
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Kings
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Magic

The Pelicans have given up 54 points off turnovers in their first two games.

 

Phoenix Suns

Seeding Games Record: 2-0

Overall Record: 28-39 (.418)

Current Title Odds: +50000 

The Suns just barely made it to the NBA restart and now they’re making some noise in the bubble.

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Wizards – Suns WON, 125-112
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Mavericks – Suns WON, 117-115
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4 vs. Clippers
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Pacers
  • Saturday, Aug. 8 vs. Heat
  • Sunday, Aug. 10 vs. Thunder
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. 76ers
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Mavericks 

Phoenix proved they can come from behind and beat a playoff team when the Suns rallied to beat the Mavericks Sunday thanks to their 36-point third quarter. In the win, Devin Booker finished with 30 points.  

Sacramento Kings

Seeding Games Record: 0-2

Overall Record: 28-38 (.424)

Current Title Odds: +125000

Sacramento was playing its best basketball of the season once they returned from the All-Star break. They won seven of 10 games to insert themselves just 3.5 games back of the eighth seed.  

But the NBA’s seeding games has been more of a challenge for the Kings. Maybe the long layoff has proved to be too much for Sacramento.

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Spurs – Kings LOST, 129-120
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Magic – Kings LOST, 132-116
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4 vs. Mavericks
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Pelicans
  • Saturday, Aug. 7 vs. Nets
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Rockets
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Pelicans
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Lakers 

In the Kings' bubble opener, point guard De’Aaron Fox scored a career-high 39 points and Sacramento still wasn’t able to get past the Spurs.

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Make sure to keep it locked here at our website and follow us on social media as we keep you up-to-date on all the Western Conference teams making a push for the playoffs.  

We’ve got our eye on that eight seed!