What an intense way to decide the final seeds in the West's playoff race!
It came right down to the penultimate day of seeding games at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, but the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies have booked their place in the Western Conference play-in tournament.
With the Blazers and Grizzlies both winning on the final day, the 8-0 Phoenix Suns - the only undefeated team in the bubble - have been eliminated from playoff contention, just missing out on the ninth seed.
The (35-39) Blazers finish the regular season in the eighth seed, a half-game up on the ninth seed (34-39) Grizzlies, meaning Memphis has to go 2-0 in the play-in tournament to secure a first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. One win from the Blazers will send them into the playoffs.
PLAY-IN SERIES SCHEDULE
Game 1: Sunday, August 16 @ 12:00 a.m. IST.
Game 2: Monday, August 17 @ 2:00 a.m. IST. (if necessary)
Portland Trail Blazers 134, Brooklyn Nets 133
After scoring 112 combined points in his last two games, Damian Lillard delivered again for the Portland Trail Blazers, pouring in 42 points (12 in the fourth quarter) and 12 assists to fend off the Brooklyn Nets in a win-or-go-home battle.
Lillard was at his offensive best, draining eight 3-pointers, including this long-range bomb from the NBA logo at half-court in the fourth quarter.
Holy......... pic.twitter.com/Kqu1D0K8Rt- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) August 14, 2020
"Each time I saw a look, I don't care how far it was or if someone was close to me, if I had a sniff I was raising up and shooting it," Lillard said post-game of his highlight-reel triple.
His biggest play of the day came on the defensive end of the floor, chasing down Caris LeVert for a steal, with the Blazers in front by just two points with 1:12 to play. His hustle resulted in a clutch jumper from CJ McCollum, who put them up 134-130.
McCollum finished with 25 points and seven assists, while Jusuf Nurkic held it down in the middle with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
LeVert continued his impressive play, leading the Nets with 37 points on 16-of-29 shooting, adding nine assists, and six rebounds. He had a chance to win it for the Nets, missing a pull-up jumper in the final possession, which would have sent the Blazers packing.
sure yeah ok @CarisLeVert pic.twitter.com/GK1cgCZhiq- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 14, 2020
Thanks to Lillard's heroics, they live to fight another day.
Memphis Grizzlies 119, Milwaukee Bucks 106
The Grizzlies entered the penultimate day of seeding games with a 1-6 record, in need of a victory in their last game....and they did just that.
Dillon Brooks had the hot hand with 31 points, while Jonas Valincuinas recorded his first career triple-double with 29 points, 19 rebounds, 12 assists. Ja Morant added a triple-double of his own with 12 points, 13, rebounds, and 10 assists, making it the first time in franchise history that two players recorded a triple-double in the same game, per Basketball-Reference.
Triple-double teammates lead @memgrizz to a Play-In berth!@JValanciunas x @JaMorant pic.twitter.com/5fBOhJNjMe- NBA (@NBA) August 13, 2020
"I feel like we were locked in, listened to coach. We all were here, played as a team as you can tell by the assist column. And we knocked down shots," Morant said post-game.
The Bucks were missing reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (suspension) and rested some key players in the second half in a game that mattered little for the East's no.1 seed, with their focus getting fresh and healthy for the playoffs.
Brook Lopez led the Bucks with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Frank Mason added 18 points off the bench and Donte DiVincenzo 17.
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