The Memphis Grizzlies hung on to the play-in game with their pinky finger. The Phoenix Suns completed an unexpected 8-0 run through seeding games and might just get into the play-in game. The Portland Trail Blazers are playing with the confidence (hello Damian Lillard) of a team that could upset the No. 1 seed in the first round of the playoffs, if they win Thursday night. The San Antonio Spurs, however, came up short in their attempt to make the playoffs for the 23rd consecutive season.
So much was at stake Thursday when four teams chased the two spots for the play-in game in the Western Conference.
Memphis is in by virtue of its victory over Milwaukee. If Portland wins tonight, it gets the final play-in game spot. However, if Portland loses, the Suns would play Memphis to see who gets the eighth seed in the West.
Before we go further, let’s give the Spurs the respect they deserve for making the playoffs 22 consecutive years.
TNT flashed a graphic on the screen that read “Last time Spurs were not in the playoffs …” The answers: Bill Clinton was president. The first DVD was sold in the U.S. Tiger Woods won his first Masters. The first Harry Potter book was published.
During that amazing run, the Spurs won five NBA championships – 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2014. The Spurs’ Gregg Popovich has also won three coach of the year awards.
The Spurs share the NBA record of 22 consecutive playoff seasons with the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers. How impressive was San Antonio’s run? The longest active playoff streak in the NBA now belongs to the Houston Rockets at eight.
Memphis defeated Milwaukee 119-106, and Phoenix topped Dallas 128-102, making the San Antonio-Utah game meaningless. Utah won 118-112. Portland plays Brooklyn at 9 p.m. ET. The teams that finish as the eighth and ninth seeds will meet in a play-in game Saturday. If the ninth seed wins, they play again Sunday to determine the final seed in the West. The eighth seed needs to win just once to secure the final playoff spot.
For play-in scenarios for the Grizzlies, Suns and Blazers, see below.
10:15 p.m. ET: The Nets, who have their playoff seed secured and have nothing to gain by winning, are not making it easy on Portland, which has to win get into the play-in game. At halftime, the Blazers lead the Nets 73-67 at halftime.
6:32 p.m. ET: Phoenix just became the biggest Brooklyn Nets fans. With the Suns’ victory over Dallas, they can snag the final play-in game spot if Brooklyn beats Portland later Thursday evening. Phoenix guard Devin Booker finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
6:27 p.m. ET: Memphis is in. It was dicey, and the Grizzlies needed to win to ensure a play-in game and a chance at making the playoffs. They did it, with a 119-106 victory over Milwaukee. Dillon Brooks had 31 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 26 points, 19 rebounds and 12 assists for the Grizzlies. Memphis rookie Ja Morant also had a triple double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
Milwaukee All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo did not play as he served a one-game suspension for headbutting Washington’s Moe Wagner during Tuesday’s game.
5:19 p.m. ET: The Suns own a 76-57 lead against Dallas at halftime, and Suns guard Devin Booker continues his stellar play with 23 points in two quarters. Even if the Suns win, they need help to get into the play-in game.
5:06 p.m. ET: The Grizzlies are halfway home to securing a spot in the play-in game. They have a 60-50 lead over the Bucks at halftime. Milwaukee All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo is not playing as he serves a one-game suspension for headbutting Washington’s Moe Wagner during Tuesday’s game.