Tuesday, August 11:
The race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference is heating up ahead of Saturday’s play-in game, in which the eighth and ninth seeds in the West will duel for the honor of playing the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the quarterfinals. With just two seeding games remaining for each team, the four yet to seal their postseason fate are the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers (0.5 games behind), Suns (1 game behind), and Spurs (1 game behind). Tuesday’s slate of games has the potential to narrow that list.
Neither San Antonio nor Phoenix can afford to lose on Tuesday without jeopardizing their playoff hopes. Wins by Memphis and Portland coupled with losses by San Antonio and Phoenix would spell death for the latter two teams, as their deficit in the standings would expand to a mathematically insurmountable 1.5 games with just one seeding game remaining. Here’s a brief look into all four Tuesday games with Western playoff implications:
Houston Rockets (-4) vs. San Antonio Spurs
- Moneyline: HOU -180
- Over/Under: 237.5
- Coverage: NBATV at 2:00pm EST
The Spurs are winners of two consecutive games over Utah and New Orleans thanks to solid scoring performances from Derrick White and DeMar DeRozan. Newly healthy Russell Westbrook and the Rockets are still competing for playoff seeding, but the absence of James Harden (rest) affords San Antonio a realistic chance to sustain their play-in game aspirations.
Phoenix Suns (-8) vs. Philadelphia 76ers
- Moneyline: PHX -350
- Over/Under: 225.5
- Coverage: Fox Sports AZ at 4:30pm EST
Devin Booker is averaging over 30 PPG in the bubble and Phoenix has without coincidence won six consecutive games with their backs against the wall. Philadelphia will have trouble cooling down the Suns without the services of Ben Simmons (surgery), Joel Embiid (left ankle sprain), or Josh Richardson (rest).
Boston Celtics (-4.5) vs. Memphis Grizzlies
- Moneyline: BOS -170
- Over/Under: 224.5
- Coverage: NBCS-BOS at 5:00pm EST
The Grizzlies control their own destiny with respect to the eighth seed, while the Celtics are locked into the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Memphis took advantage of a relatively unmotivated Thunder team last week for their lone bubble victory, so look for Ja Morant and company to play with more energy and urgency than Boston.
Portland Trail Blazers (-1) vs. Dallas Mavericks
- Moneyline: POR -120
- Over/Under: 220.5
- Coverage: TNT at 6:30pm EST
Damian Lillard squaring off against Luka Doncic will be must-watch television. Luka is fresh off a 36-point performance opposite the Bucks that marked his 17th triple double of the season, while Dame recently torched the Nuggets for 45 points and 12 assists and dropped 51 points on the Sixers.
Parlay Pick: Spurs +4 / Suns ML / Grizzlies +4.5 / POR-DAL Over 220.5
Let’s get weird with a big payout parlay. All three of these teams desperately need a victory to either preserve or gain a spot in the Western Conference play-in game, and the three games contested between Portland and Dallas this season averaged 243 total points.
- Brandon Dill/Associated Press
- Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images