NBA Western Conference: The Race For The Eighth Seed

Author: Mansi


The NBA is all set to resume and the race for 8th seed is hotly contested in the Western Conference currently. This makes for something great for all kinds of fans to follow, especially given the shortened eight-game season. The Memphis Grizzlies look like a favorite currently, but many teams are in the running and are close enough to catch up if the Grizzlies mess up. 

Memphis Needs to Play Consistently

The Grizzlies have exceeded expectations throughout this season and have every reason to be happy with their performance. The issue they will face is transitioning from a regular season to the special rules-bound resumption of season. This time, if the 9th seed is within four games of the 8th seed, they will play a double-elimination tournament. The team with the higher seed will hold the advantage in the tournament.

So the 8th seed needs to win one game to smoothly sail into the final playoff spot. But the 9th seed needs to win both games to go to the playoffs. This rule complicates things for the Memphis Grizzlies. They will obviously hold an advantage, but there are three teams - New Orleans, Portland, and Sacramento - who are all 3.5 games behind Memphis. The Spurs could also be an issue because they trail by four games. The issue here is Memphis needs to put in the work to leave these teams behind. They are a great team but are very young and will need to hold their ground until they secure the final playoff spot without ever running into the possibility of a double-elimination tournament. 

New Orleans can Cause Some Issues

The new rule for 8th and 9th seed teams to make it to the playoffs seems tailor-made for the Pelicans to make it to the playoffs. The Pelicans currently have a lot of confidence even though it has been some time since they have played on the courts. The reason behind their current confidence is Zion Williamson’s health looking better than before and Brandon Ingram also seems to have overcome his injuries because he’s had the time to rest. Both these players bring plenty to the table. The team with these players, playing in the playoffs, would add to the value of the games and the viewership potential. This explains why the NBA could have made this rule to give them a fighting chance to make it to the playoffs. 

Ingram is the All-Star on the team, but Zion is the real showstopper. Over 19 games, he has averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds on 59% field goals. He came back to play in late January and has missed only one game since. He has had more time to sync his play with Ingram’s and now the Pelicans should ideally be in top form, and make it to the 8th seed race. 

Blazers Are a Force to be Reckoned with

The Blazers may not have had the best front-court in the NBA (they could have competed for the worst), but now they’ve brought in Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, which effectively solves their problem. Hasan Whiteside is playing a good game too, with 16.3 points and 14.2 rebs 3.1 blocks. Even if Nurkic can’t get off the bench immediately, the Blazers stand to gain if he comes back for the later games. 

Carmelo Anthony looks in great shape to play as well and his fitness can make up for his lackluster performance in the past. His experience will play a big role if they make it to the playoffs, and his fitness transformation shows how seriously he’s taking the season. The Blazers also have a lot of experience getting to and playing in the playoffs, but the Grizzlies and the Pelicans don’t have much in comparison.

The 8th Seed Race

The props available for the 8th seed in the West are wide-ranging and are a good variety to pick from. The current favorites are the Grizzlies at -125, and the Pelicans are the next favorite at +190. The Blazers are +325 and the most unlikely San Antonio Spurs is at +1600 on BetOnline. Other sportsbooks have similar odds available. Every scenario between the top 3 seems probable right now. A good way to get this started is by watching the first Blazers game this season, which is against the Memphis Grizzlies. This should have set the tone of what can be expected from both these teams. The Grizzlies have to win at least 3 or 4 games of their 8 remaining games to retain their 8th spot. 


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