Alright folks, it’s time to buckle up for the NBA Playoffs! That means it’s time for new Growl Towels, drum lines down Beale Street, and finding new reasons to hate every other player on every other team in the NBA. As you surely know by this point, all of the seed positioning is still up in the air. And it’s SUPER confusing because there are so many moving parts. However, I’ve tried to compile everything you need to know (with a lot of help from Matt Moore of CBSSports.com) and break down exactly what you need to root for and against happening tonight.
First, here’s a list of the games you’ll need to monitor tonight:
– Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets (7pm CST, only on NBA League Pass)
– San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans (7pm CST, only on NBA League Pass)
– Indiana Pacers at Memphis Grizzlies (8:30pm CST, ESPN)
And now with the help of Matt Moore here are all of the possible scenarios (you should be able to click on the chart to enlarge it):
That chart certainly helps, but with so many possibilities it’s still a little confusing. So I’ve broken down what I consider to be the best and worst case scenarios and what that means you should root for to happen in the Spurs, Rockets and Grizzlies games tonight.
Unfortunately, my favorite scenario requires the Grizzlies to lose to the Pacers tonight. So if you can’t fathom ever wishing that upon our guys, feel free to skip ahead. But it’s my opinion that the best case scenario for the Grizzlies path to the NBA Finals is the Grizzlies losing to the Pacers, the Spurs losing to the Pelicans (the Pelicans have a lot to play for tonight as they control their own fate…if they win tonight against the Spurs, they make the playoffs regardless of the OKC outcome), and the Rockets need to be the only winners of the group against the Jazz. This scenario boosts the Rockets to the 2 seed, knocks the Spurs back to the 5 seed and cements the Grizzlies in the 6 spot.
Why is this ideal for the Grizzlies to fall all the way to the 6 seed? Because it puts both the Warriors and the Spurs on the opposite side of the bracket from the Grizzlies. That means in order to make it to the NBA Finals, the Grizzlies would only theoretically have to face EITHER the Warriors OR the Spurs. Obviously, this is an ideal scenario given the way they are both destroying everyone. Also, as I’ll hit on a little more below, I kind of hope the Grizzlies face the Clippers in the first round. While I would hate for the Clippers to possibly crush our collective hopes and dreams, it’s just undoubtedly the most fun matchup.
Now, that was the best scenario. Here is the worst case scenario: the Spurs, Rockets AND Grizzlies all somehow lose tonight. I really don’t see this happening as all three teams sort of have something to play for. But the Pelicans should give the Spurs everything they have to try to solidify their spot in the playoffs. The Rockets may or may not really care where they fall and the Jazz aren’t terrible and will be able to play totally loose. AND the Pacers need to win to guarantee their spot (if they lose to the Grizzlies and the Nets beat the Magic…which, come on…they’ll be out). If all three lose, the Grizzlies would face the Spurs in the first round AND the Clippers would get the 2 seed. Both are truly sickening to think about. This would also mean that, in theory, the Grizzlies could have to face both the Spurs and the Clippers just to make the Western Conference Finals. So if you couldn’t live with yourself rooting for the first scenario listed above and the Grizzlies loss, you can hang your hat on wanting to avoid this scenario if nothing else. HOWEVER, because the Grizzlies game tips an hour and a half after after both of the other games, you should be able to know exactly what you want from the Grizzlies during the second half.
Feel free to play that however you’d like with your friends, but we should all be able to agree that we all lose if all three teams lose tonight. That is the only possible scenario where the Grizzlies would have to play the Spurs in the first round by the way.
I could go through other scenarios but they are kind of just whatever to me. The Grizzlies will likely face either the Clippers or Trailblazers. There’s only one outcome that yields a first round Grizzlies/Spurs matchup so we’ll just cross our fingers there. If the Grizzlies win and EITHER the Spurs or the Rockets lose, the Grizzlies will be the 5 and actually get home court advantage over Portland because of their records. So that’s maybe ideal because Portland is just as banged up as we are. If the Grizzlies lose tonight they are set in the 6 spot regardless of anything else. I hope that clears things up a little bit for everybody.
Here is a breakdown of the percentage chances for all of the matchups from Ben Alamar:
Grind forth, Grizz Nation. May the odds ever be in your favor.