Entering play Tuesday, the teams for the West play-in (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC) could have theoretically been decided. But the San Antonio Spurs‘ win over the Houston Rockets early Tuesday afternoon put an end to those plans.
The Spurs haven’t actually clinched anything yet, so their 22-season playoff run could still be snapped, but their win keeps them in contention for the eventual 8-9 play-in game, and guarantees meaningful basketball will be played on Thursday.
Despite the Spurs’ win, the Memphis Grizzlies can still secure their spot in Saturday’s game with a win over the Boston Celtics. And while the Portland Trail Blazers can’t clinch anything Tuesday night, they can knock out the Phoenix Suns — who would need to lose to the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers as well.
Here’s the latest on the standings, the games to watch Monday and Tuesday, and everything else you need to know. Check back for highlights and updates throughout the day.
Suns starters announced by their families
NBA players have been at the Walt Disney World Resort inside the NBA’s bubble for more than a month now, and their families won’t be allowed to join them until after the first round of the playoffs. So the Phoenix Suns did the next best thing, having their starting five for Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers announced remotely by each player’s family from home.
Justin Anderson matches unfortunate NBA record
The Brooklyn Nets player has never been a great 3-point shooter in his career, averaging 30% from beyond the arc. But he’d never been quite as off the mark as he was Tuesday. Anderson attempted 12 3-pointers and missed every single one, tying an NBA record for 3s attempted in a game without a make. He matches Brook Lopez, who went 0-for-12 in 2018 for the Milwaukee Bucks, and Eric Gordon, who had his 0-for-12 night back in February for the Houston Rockets.
The good news for Anderson is that his misses didn’t hurt that much — Brooklyn still beat Orlando 108-96 to improve to 5-2 in the NBA restart. The Nets can reach .500 with a win over Portland on Thursday night.
Tuesday’s remaining clinching scenarios
Here they are, straight from the NBA’s computers:
- Memphis clinches a spot in the play-in game with a win
Phoenix is eliminated with a loss AND a Portland win
Harden out, Westbrook in for Rockets
The Houston Rockets are playing the front end of a back-to-back Tuesday, so James Harden is getting the day off for rest. Although the Rockets will be down one former MVP winner, they’re getting another one back.
Russell Westbrook missed the past two seeding games with a bruised right quad, but he’ll be in the lineup against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. Westbrook averaged 25.7 points and 8.3 assists per game in Houston’s first three seeding games.
Don’t expect to see your favorite Bucks tonight
The Milwaukee Bucks are locked in to the top seed in the East. The Washington Wizards, Milwaukee’s opponent Tuesday night, have already been eliminated from playoff contention. There’s not a lot at stake in this one, and the Bucks are using it as an opportunity to get their banged-up players some time to recuperate before the playoffs begin next week. Starters Khris Middleton (load management), Eric Bledsoe (knee soreness), Wesley Matthews (adductor soreness) and sixth man Donte DiVincenzo (elbow contusion) have already been declared out. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as questionable after undergoing dental surgery on Monday. No word on whether Brook and Robin Lopez, the NBA’s biggest Disney fans, will get an off day to visit Epcot.
Tuesday’s must-see game
Memphis still has everything to play for and needs a win in one of its final two games against Boston or Milwaukee to guarantee itself a place in the play-in tournament next weekend. The Grizzlies could get a break in playing the Celtics, who are locked in the third seed and have nothing to play for. — Tim Bontemps
- Brooklyn Nets 108, Orlando Magic 96 | Box score
The No. 8 Grizzlies still haven’t secured a postseason bid and need to win their last two games to control their destiny. On Tuesday, they play the Celtics, who have little to play for and might rest starters. The Suns also face a tough East team, but the Sixers will be without Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
8. Memphis Grizzlies | 33-38 (.465) | —
9. Portland Trail Blazers | 33-39 (.458) | 0.5 GB
10. San Antonio Spurs | 32-38 (.457) | 0.5 GB
11. Phoenix Suns | 32-39 (.451) | 1.0 GB
Wednesday’s must-see games
Bubble darling T.J. Warren will look to get back on track after a disappointing game (12 points, 5-of-14 shooting, 2-of-6 from 3) against the Miami Heat. Still, Warren is averaging 31 points per game in the bubble, with a 57.8/52.4/88.9 shooting line. The Pacers hope that Warren will resume his scoring spree because they’re on track to face Miami in the first round. Houston, meanwhile, will be on the second night of a back-to-back. Russell Westbrook will miss Wednesday’s game for rest, though the plan is to have Eric Gordon back. Gordon has not played in any seeding games because of a sprained ankle. — Andrew Lopez
This game could end up deciding the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference — or leave Denver fighting not to fall to the No. 4 seed, depending on Houston’s performance. To move up from No. 3 to No. 2, Denver would have to win back-to-back games to finish the seeding games, and the Clippers would have to drop both of their games. Denver is coming off a three-point loss to the Lakers in which Kyle Kuzma‘s go-ahead 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left lifted Los Angeles over Denver’s bench, which played the entire fourth. The Clippers are coming off of two days of rest after Sunday’s 129-120 loss to the Nets. It was, however, Kawhi Leonard‘s best performance in the bubble, as he finished with 39 points — tied for the third-most points he has scored in a game this season. — Lopez
- Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers | 6:30 p.m. ET
Analysis and intel
With most of the NBA playoff matchups still to be decided, here are our latest projections.
To get you ready for this stretch run, our NBA experts highlight the eight games that will decide the playoff picture.
Portland and Phoenix are hot. How is the four-team race shaping up now? Here are the latest projections.