The Memphis Grizzlies will be first on the tee when the Western Conference holds a glorified elimination day Thursday in the NBA bubble near Orlando.
The Grizzlies (33-39) will take the court in the early afternoon against the Milwaukee Bucks in the regular-season finale holding ninth place in the West, a half-game behind Portland (34-39), technically tied with — but holding a tie-breaker advantage over — Phoenix (33-39), and percentage points up on San Antonio (32-38).
Seeking to end a two-year playoff drought, Memphis can move ahead of Portland with a win over the Bucks and a Trail Blazers loss to Brooklyn in a late-night game.
The eighth- and ninth-place finishers in the West will battle this weekend in a one- or two-game play-in series on Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday. The eighth-place finisher must win only one game, while the ninth-place finisher must win both. The winner of the play-in will face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the traditional first round of the playoffs.
The Grizzlies can earn an invitation to the play-in series in the ninth position even with a loss, if both the Suns and Spurs also lose on Thursday. Phoenix plays Dallas at the same time as the Memphis-Milwaukee contest, while San Antonio will face Utah in the early evening.
Milwaukee (56-16), meanwhile, has clinched the No. 1 seed in the East and will meet Orlando in the first round of the playoffs, which start on Monday.
Information courtesy of ESPN