There will be a West play-in
False positives in the bubble, mask shenanigans, bigs vs. small Rockets, Carmelo
BY HENRY ABBOTT
The NBA drew a little COVID-risk scorn by inviting five West teams—the Blazers, Spurs, Pelicans, Kings, and Suns—into the bubble even though none were in line to make the playoffs. Was that really necessary?
A few days into the restart, the answer appears to be yes. Interestingly, the Grizzlies—current holders of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West—have lost all three games they’ve played in Orlando. At this moment, all five of those hopeful outsiders are close enough to trigger the NBA’s first-ever play-in contest, which will be between the Grizzlies and whoever finishes with the best record among the rest.
In that scrum, the Blazers currently hold a one-game lead over the Spurs, who are a half game ahead of the Pelicans in the battle to face the Grizzlies. Who’s favored? Normally, to answer that, you’d assess the quality of those teams’ upcoming opponents. In the bubble you must also factor in: Do those opponents have anything to play for? A team without real …