The Portland Trail Blazers and the Memphis Grizzlies will face-off in the play-in game on Saturday night. The way in which they went about in on Thursday were wildly different.
The Memphis Grizzlies punched their ticket to the play-in with a big win over a Milwaukee Bucks team playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Blazers needed 42 points from Damian Lillard in 44 minutes to eek out a 134-133 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
The Phoenix Suns stayed perfect in the bubble with a 26-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks, but will miss out on a postseason opportunity.
Also missing out are the San Antonio Spurs, as their 22-season playoff streak (tied for the longest in NBA history) comes to an end as wins earlier in the day by Memphis and Phoenix eliminated them from content.
Here’s the latest on the standings, the games to watch Thursday and Friday, and everything you need to know. Check back for highlights and updates throughout the day.
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Damian Lillard cements his “Logo Lillard” nickname as he drains a 3-pointer from the center-court NBA logo.
Logo Lillard strikes again
The Blazers star finished his run in the bubble with a 37.6 scoring average, topping it off with a 42-point effort to push his team into a play-in game versus the Grizzlies. The highlight of the night? Another 3-pointer from the likeness of Jerry West near midcourt.
Brantley’s breakout moment
Jarrell Brantley had been waiting for his chance.
The Jazz forward logged just 15 minutes before entering the bubble, and as Utah began preparing for the playoffs, rest for the regular rotation players were in order. For Brantley, that meant finally getting some playing time.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Jazz looking to put the game away, Brantley broke out on the fast break and finished big at the rim over Luka Samanic for the poster.
Jarrell Brantley throws down a fast-break dunk against the Spurs that brings the Jazz bench to their feet in approval.
The Utah bench erupted in kind, celebrating the big play and showing the rookie some love. Brantley finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds and his first NBA highlight.
Booker leaves MKG in the dust
The Suns stayed perfect in the bubble as they fight for a spot in the West play-in. Buckets like this sure helped.
Devin Booker freezes Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with a jab step and then drives to the rim for a one-handed jam.
Not off the jabstep @DevinBook
— Tyson Chandler (@tysonchandler) August 13, 2020
The Grindfather and Z-Bo are in the building
“Grit ‘n’ Grind” legends Tony Allen and Zach Randolph were spotted in the virtual crowd during the Grizzlies’ final seeding game. A win clinched Memphis a spot in the West play-in.
— FOX Sports Grizzlies (@GrizzliesOnFSSE) August 13, 2020
What were LeBron and AD laughing at?
The world may never know.
LeBron & AD can’t stop laughing on the bench ? pic.twitter.com/8tGaTGUBMr
— ESPN (@espn) August 13, 2020
LeBron’s historic streak will continue into 2020-21
LeBron James scored 17 points in 15 minutes in Thursday’s seeding-round finale for the Los Angeles Lakers. Head coach Frank Vogel said he wanted to play James in the first half to “get him some work, some rhythm” with the game against the Sacramento Kings being the last chance for a tuneup before L.A.’s playoff opener, likely coming Tuesday.
While it wasn’t the smoothest performance for the 17-year veteran — he missed a couple of point-blank attempts at the rim in the second quarter he’d surely like to have back — he did secure a couple of statistical achievements worth noting. His streak of scoring 10 points or more extended to 995 games — he’ll officially take the streak, which began on Jan. 6, 2007, into next season with a chance to push it to 1,000 in the first weeks of 2020-21.
And while his four assists on the day dipped his season average to 10.2 assists per game, he still leads the league, earning him the first assists title of his career.
— Dave McMenamin
LeBron James misses a couple of wide-open layups in the second quarter in the Lakers’ last game of the season.
The Kings are headed back to reality
After weeks of being in the NBA’s protective bubble, the Sacramento Kings are headed back to the outside world.
After the Kings finished the restart with a 136-122 win over the Lakers, Walton talked to his team about the most important thing this offseason — focusing on staying safe and healthy.
“It’s very strange,” Walton said of the Kings going from being in a bubble to leaving after a game. “And this has been life every day for over a month now. We’re excited to get home and see our families, but it is different. It’s one extreme and then we are going right back out there to the real world now. And part of the messaging to the players was, guys, we have to be very smart about how we act when we get out of here. …
“We have a lot of responsibility as far as continuing to wear a face mask, continuing to social distance, washing our hands. Normally that is not part of your last postgame meeting with the team. But for right now, that is probably the most important messaging to give the guys.
“We don’t know when we are playing again. We got to make sure that we take care of ourselves and stay safe.”
— Ohm Youngmisuk
The Wizards leave the bubble with a W
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Washington Wizards became the first team to leave the NBA campus Thursday — and they did so on a high note.
After losing each of their first seven seeding games here inside the league’s bubble at Walt Disney World Resort, the Wizards beat the Celtics 96-90 before immediately flying back to Washington. By the end of the day Thursday, at least two other teams — the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans — will have joined them, and two others from among the four fighting for a spot in the play-in tournament — the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs — will see their seasons end, too.
For the Wizards, a win is a win — regardless of whether it came against a Celtics team that was resting its top six players in preparation for facing the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs next week.
“Well, I think we had a great experience here,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “We had a lot of good growth, a lot of good bonding experience, a lot of positives came out of it. … We grew up a little bit these past two months together.
“I’m happy with it, and we’re all excited about the next phase of our development, and right now we are going to go home and connect with our families and go from there.”
— Tim Bontemps
What Westbrook’s injury means for Houston’s playoff run
An MRI Wednesday revealed a strained quad muscle for the Rockets’ All-Star guard, who’s now expected to miss at least the start of the team’s playoff series next week. How will the Rockets replace Westbrook and how much will they miss his presence?
Updated West play-in standings
T-8. Memphis Grizzlies* | 34-39 (.466) | —
T-8. Phoenix Suns | 34-39 (.466) | —
T-8. Portland Trail Blazers | 34-39 (.466) | —
* Clinched spot in West play-in
MORE: NBA Western Conference play-in scenarios
Friday’s Must-See Games
Denver Nuggets vs. Toronto Raptors | 1:30 p.m. ET
For both of these teams, the goal will be to get into the playoffs healthy. Denver, which has dealt with injuries throughout the bubble, will likely be exceedingly cautious in this game as it waits on the return of wings Gary Harris and Will Barton.
The same should go for the defending champions, who sat rotation players OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka on Wednesday and have been judicious with minutes over the past few days. Head coach Nick Nurse will likely give most of the Raptors’ regulars the day off. — Tim Bontemps
Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers | 4 p.m. ET
These two teams met on Monday, and the Heat cruised to a comfortable win. With this now set as a first-round playoff series, expect both teams to rest their key players in preparation for their showdown starting early next week. — Bontemps
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. LA Clippers | 7:30 p.m. ET
While Chris Paul will be going up against his old team, it’s hard to see him playing much. Same goes for Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. What all of that will mean is Reggie Jackson will get a revenge game against his old team — which likely means big numbers from him (if anyone is actually playing DFS on the final day of seeding games). — Bontemps
Houston Rockets vs. Philadelphia 76ers | 9 p.m. ET
The focus for these two teams won’t be what happens on the court, but instead what the health of two of their biggest stars is off of it. Joel Embiid left Wednesday’s game against Toronto because of a wrist injury, while Russell Westbrook sat out Houston’s loss to Indiana because of a strained quad. — Bontemps
Analysis and intel
NBA bubble awards: Our experts pick the MVP, best play and top rookie
Other awards include Comeback Player of the Bubble, Sixth Man of the Bubble and Best Coach
NBA Power Rankings: A shake-up in the top 5 as playoff matchups take shape
The playoff picture is beginning to take shape as the final week of seeding games continues.
West play-in predictions: Suns perfect, Lillard spectacular, but who gets in?
Phoenix is 7-0, and Portland keeps winning. Here are the latest projections for the four-team race.
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