LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It’s now official: There will be a play-in series to determine the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Memphis’ 108-99 loss to Toronto on Sunday means that it’s no longer possible for more than a four-game difference in the standings between the eighth- and ninth-place finishers in the West when the seeding game schedule ends later this week.

By the rules the NBA set for this season’s restart, there had to be more than a four-game cushion for the No. 8 team to get the final playoff spot outright. The league decided to add the play-in series option in an abundance of fairness, since about 14% of the regular season schedule was eliminated because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Memphis remains alone in eighth place, even after Sunday’s loss. Portland is one game behind and is in the nine seed (with a Philadelphia Sunday night). San Antonio (who beat New Orleans Sunday) and red-hot Phoenix are 1.5 games back of the Grizzlies. New Orleans is now two games back and with a difficult road to the postseason.

No team has clinched a spot in the play-in series; the Grizzlies could have assured themselves of no worse than that had they beaten the Raptors on Sunday.

Game 1 of the play-in series will be Saturday, with Game 2 — if necessary — the following day, Aug. 16. To advance and face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, the eighth-place team will have to win one of the two games and the ninth-place finisher would have to go 2-0.

ABC will air Game 1 of the play-in series on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Game 2, if necessary, would be Aug. 16 at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN.

There will be no play-in series in the Eastern Conference; Brooklyn and Orlando have secured what were the last two available spots on that bracket, with Washington — the only other team that came to Disney with a chance of qualifying in the East — already eliminated.

The playoffs begin Monday, Aug. 17.

“Obviously, that’s what everybody’s goal is,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said Sunday.

The matchup for the play-in will be known no later than Thursday. There are four seeding games on Friday, the last day of the regular season, though none of them will have any bearing on the West matchup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

PSG’s Mbappe to miss games for three weeks

  PARIS — Kylian Mbappe will be absent for “approximately three weeks” due to an ankle injury which he picked up in the French Cup final last Friday, his club Paris Saint-Germain confirmed on Monday. It means that the French…

NASCAR iRacing returns at virtual Richmond

After an off weekend, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series gets back on (virtual) track Sunday at a digital Richmond Raceway. A smaller field of 26 current and former NASCAR Cup drivers – down from fields of 35 drivers at…

New cases force Dresden into quarantine 08.05.2020

May 9 — Two new cases at second-division side Second-division side Dynamo Dresden have reported two further COVID-19 cases following a third round of tests. The whole squad and coaching staff will go into quarantine for 14 days. The club’s…

Suarez double, Barca drop vital points in Vigo

MADRID – Luis Suarez scored twice with assists from Leo Messi, but FC Barcelona dropped two vital points in the title race for La Liga as they were twice pegged back in a 2-2 draw away to an impressive Celta…