With just two days left for the NBA restart seeding schedule, the San Antonio Spurs find themselves still alive in the chase for a playoff spot. They’ll have to become either the 8th or 9th seed in the Western Conference, and then win the play-in game to get into the playoffs.
Three other teams are trying to get into that game, though. That means the Spurs will need some things to happen on Thursday. Here are their NBA play-in game scenarios ahead of the final scheduled game.
Spurs Battling Three Other Teams for Play-in
Each team at the NBA restart had eight games on their schedule. Those were to help determine the playoff seeds. While there were eight teams from each conference already in the standings, the NBA invited several more for the Eastern and Western Conference. For the East, the Washington Wizards got an invite and a chance to reach the playoffs but failed.
In the West, San Antonio was invited to the bubble as well as the New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns. Much of the focus was on rookies Zion Williamson (Pelicans) and Ja Morant (Grizzlies), as well as Portland’s All-Star Damian Lillard.
All of these teams were trying to win their way into the playoffs at the bubble. The Memphis Grizzlies were trying to play well enough to hold their eighth and final spot in the West, or else they’d get put into the NBA play-in game, or worse, fall out of the playoffs.
This past weekend, the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings were eliminated from contention for a spot in the playoffs or play-in game. That left San Antonio, Phoenix, Portland, and Memphis to battle for the play-in game and a playoffs spot with just a few games left on the restart schedule.
The Spurs and Suns have been pretty darn impressive when it comes to the NBA bubble playoff picture. However, Portland has played well enough to take over the No. 8 seed ahead of Thursday. Still, they’re only a half-game ahead of the other three teams.
All the Blazers need to do is win on Thursday, and they hold the No. 8 seed for the play-in game. Even with a loss, they could still be the No. 9 seed for that game, if two of the other three teams lose (Grizzlies, Suns, or Spurs).
Spurs’ NBA play-in Game Scenarios
First and foremost, the Spurs will need to defeat the Utah Jazz on Thursday. A loss by the Spurs automatically eliminates them from the running. However, a win keeps their hopes alive, even though they’ll need help in the form of other teams losing.
Here are Thursday’s scheduled games involving all four teams:
- Milwaukee vs. Memphis 4 p.m. ET
- Dallas vs. Phoenix 4 p.m. ET (TNT)
- Spurs vs. Jazz 6:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
- Trail Blazers vs. Nets 9 p.m. ET (TNT)
Some bad news for San Antonio is that the other three teams face NBA squads basically locked into their seeds. Does that mean Milwaukee, Brooklyn, and Dallas rest key players, though? We already know Giannis Antetokounmpo is suspended for his headbutting incident, so that will benefit Memphis.
Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz are currently 43-28. As of this report, they still could move in terms of the spot they’ll get in the West. The good news for San Antonio’s chances of winning is that Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert will both be sidelined for the game. Emmanuel Mudiay is questionable.
In terms of NBA play-in game scenarios, the Spurs can get the No. 9 spot by defeating the Jazz, and then need two of the other three teams to lose on Thursday.