MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies have found themselves in a must-win situation against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday. They will play against a Bucks’ team without their star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was suspended by the league for head-butting Washington Wizards’ Mo Wagner on Tuesday night. The Bucks are expected to rest their starters for the seeding match-up.
Nevertheless, Memphis finds itself in a dire situation. The Portland Trailblazers, who are currently the eighth seed, are rolling after Damian Lillard’s 61 points performance over the Mavericks on Tuesday. The Blazers win and the Grizzlies loss makes the playoff picture that much more complicated for Memphis.
For the Grizzlies to get the eighth seed, they must beat the Antetokounmpo-less Bucks on Thursday. Additionally, a Blazers loss would help the Grizzlies’ cause. But, in the NBA bubble, because these two teams are fighting for a playoff spot, and their records are nearly identical, the two will compete against one another in a “play-in series.”
If both the Grizzlies and the Blazers win, Memphis would have to beat Portland twice to get in the playoffs. At the same time, the Blazers would only have to beat Memphis once, to lock up the eighth-seed.
If Portland loses Thursday, but Memphis wins, then the reverse would happen. The Grizzlies would just have to beat Portland once to punch their ticket to the playoffs, and the Blazers would have to beat the Grizzlies twice.
Lastly, if some how both Memphis and Portland loses, then things continue to get more complicated. Whichever team makes it to the eighth seed must be ready to play against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thursday, the Portland Trailblazers will take on the Brooklyn Nets at 8 p.m. and the Grizzlies will tip-off against the Bucks at 3 p.m.