As things currently stand, the margin between the Western Conference contenders for the eighth seed in the playoffs is razor-thin. The Portland Trail Blazers are currently in sole possession of the final playoff spot at 34-39, but the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs are all less than one game behind them. With only two more days of seeding games remaining, just about anything could happen.
With that in mind, we should all band together and collectively manifest a Suns-Blazers play-in series. It's the best possible outcome, and while it's anything but assured, it's not as unlikely as you'd think! If the Blazers and Grizzlies both lose their final games but the Suns win, we'll get Phoenix vs. Portland, with Portland only needing to win one out of two possible games to advance. The Suns would need to beat Portland in consecutive matchups to squeak into the playoffs.
The Grizzlies have looked bad since Jaren Jackson Jr. left the bubble to undergo meniscus surgery. I'm as big a Ja Morant stan as you'll find on this here site, but I don't particularly want to see Memphis get obliterated by Portland or Phoenix for two straight games. The Grizzlies will be going up against the Bucks tomorrow in what is essentially a win or go home game. Milwaukee will probably rest its starters and Giannis Antetokounmpo could be suspended after he headbutted Moe Wagner in a Zidane-esque fit of rage Tuesday night. Memphis is well-positioned to walk away with a win, but the team's play of late hasn't been encouraging.
The biggest obstacle between a Portland-Phoenix series is the Blazers having to lose their last game for it to happen. If the Blazers lose, they risk not getting into the play-in series at all, so they won't be taking it easy on their starters when it comes to minutes. Their final game comes against the Nets, who have been trotting out exactly two starters from the pre-bubble roster with a bunch of bench guys/G-Leaguers filling in the gaps. They've been feisty and have won more games than they should have, but it'll take a cold streak like we haven't seen from Damian Lillard before for Brooklyn to have a chance. But still, I'm telling you there's a chance!
I don't really care about bringing the best "team" into the playoffs or whatever. I'm sure either squad would make life difficult for the Los Angeles Lakers, but neither is beating LeBron James in a seven-game series. But having Devin Booker and Lillard face off with a playoff berth on the line would be the peak of NBA bubble entertainment. Both dudes have been unconscious in the bubble. Lillard has dropped 112 points over the course of the last two games, including a 61-point barrage against Dallas Tuesday night. Booker has averaged more than 30 points a game in Orlando.
The Suns are fun. The Blazers are fun. It would be a damn treat to watch Booker and Lillard trade baskets with their seasons on the line. It's a bit of a longshot, but through our collective mental capabilities, we can will it into existence. I believe this to be so. Give us Blazers-Suns!