With the NBA season just a few short days away, there are a lot of storylines to watch in the eight games left of the regular season. With 22 teams invited into the NBA “bubble”, and either 16 or 18 teams making the playoffs, there will be some teams playing for a playoff berth, while others will be trying to keep or improve their playoff seeds. Let’s take a look at some of the top storylines to watch in the season’s final eight games so you can plan ahead your bets against their NBA odds.
3 Things to Know about what’s left of the 2020 NBA Schedule
The Chase for the #8 Seed in the West
As of now, the Memphis Grizzlies hold a 3.5 game lead over the Pelicans, Blazers, and Kings, and a 4 game lead over the Spurs. The Grizzlies have one of the toughest schedules left, while the Pelicans have a relatively easy schedule. The NBA would love to see their newest superstar, Zion Williamson, make an appearance in the playoffs. With Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Portland has just as much chance as anyone to catch Memphis.
If the #9 seed is within four games of the #8 seed, then there will be a “play in” series. The #9 seed would advance to the playoffs by winning two games before the #8 seed wins one. With the least-difficult schedule left, do the upstart New Orleans Pelicans have the best shot at overtaking the Grizzlies? These next eight games will tell the playoff story.
Nobody Wants to be the #7 Seed in the West
Many teams would love to have a spot in the playoffs, but nobody wants to be the #7 seed, as that would presumably lead to a playoff series with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are one of the favorites to win the NBA title, and were playing well when the season was postponed.
The Dallas Mavericks currently hold the #7 seed. They play many of the contenders for the #8 seed in the West. They also play the Jazz, Clippers, and Bucks, who may just be playing tune-up games, as their seeds are pretty solid. Dallas would love to get up to the #6 seed.
In order to get to the #6 seed, the Mavericks will have to overtake the Rockets, who own a 1 ½ game lead over Dallas. These two will face each other in their opening game on July 31st. The Rockets don’t want to be in the seventh spot, as the Clippers have a very versatile defensive team, and would be one of the teams most capable of stopping Houston’s 5-out, 3 point shooting offense. The Rockets will face a plethora of playoff teams including the Bucks, Lakers, Pacers, and 76ers.
The battle to avoid the Clippers could come down to the last game of the season, and should be a fun race to watch.
Will the Real Philadelphia 76ers Please Stand Up?
Philadelphia is 39-26, and currently sitting in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Philadelphia and Indiana both hold the same record, but the Pacers are in the fifth spot due to tiebreakers. Philadelphia would love to get into the fifth spot to avoid a first round series with the Boston Celtics.
It’s no secret that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid don’t always mesh well together, but the Sixers are a very talented bunch. Head Coach Brent Brown has made the decision to move Simmons to the four spot, and now Shake Milton will take over the point guard spot. This could shake things up. With Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford in the mix, this team has the ability to contend for the Eastern Conference title if they play to their capabilities.
Philadelphia opens up with the Pacers, and then has a fairly favorable schedule. They will have plenty of opportunities to overtake the Pacers and claim the #5 spot in the playoffs. Coach Brown will need to get his troops to play well, or his job could be on the line after the season.