The NBA is officially back and returning soon in Orlando, Florida at Disney World. The NBA is adding 8 regular-season games and adding a few more teams to try to make a jump at the eighth seed. The league added a few teams that are outside the playoff picture and invited them to Orlando. The West now looks more competitive then ever and the race for 8 is heating up.
Teams in the Race for 8
The current 8 seed- Memphis Grizzlies
9. Portland Trailblazers, 3.5 GB
10. New Orleans Pelicans, 3.5 GB
11. Sacramento Kings 3.5 GB
12. San Antonio Spurs, 4 GB
13. Phoenix Suns, 6 GB
Will need help
The Suns will start 6 games behind and still will have to go a long way to be the last 16 teams. They will definitely need players to step up and play well on both sides of the ball to stay in the race. The West is just grueling, and their only chance is to do really well and add a lot of other losses. Normally I might say there is a play in game chance, but I just don’t see it. I wish there was some other way to draw it up for Phoenix, but they’re just isn’t. I think these 8 games will really help them develop, but not anything more than that.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are only two games outside the nine seed but once again have a problem similar to the Suns. This regular season ending will feature playoff teams only, making it a way tougher for teams that aren’t ready. Not to mention LaMarcus Aldridge’s season-ending injury. The only thing keeping the Spurs ahead of the Suns is the Popovich factor. Pop has always been able to rally his teams and quite honestly they have the potential to be very good. If they can just stay steady on offense I have no reason not to give them a chance.
The Kings are one of those teams that you will just have to watch and see. They have plenty of offensive firepowers and they even have Buddy Hield a top three-point shooter coming off the bench. They just need to keep playing fast, when that happens De’Aaron Fox will be able to use his speed to help the offense. They keep that up and continue their momentum from before the break they might see an opening, especially in the nine spots.
This may be a shocker to most people out there but the Grizzlies will just have so much pressure. Memphis will have a lot to deal with when they play these hungrier teams. I do not want the pressure of this playoffs. to be on a young rookie and neither would any other team. They will need other players to step up in a big way in order to really have a good chance of making out of the regular season alive. The biggest advantage they have is that they have a 3 game lead on the field.
Portland has turned into a very dangerous team as they got a long extended break. They now have a healthy Dame and CJ McCollum added to the roster. Not to mention a possible return by Nurkic, which could kickstart the whole team into another gear. They will have a completely rested team and could even be dangerous enough to mess with some contenders if they could put it all together. We will have to wait and see but I just would never count out Playoff Dame.
New Orleans Pelicans
There might be a lot of love with the Pelicans being atop these rankings so let me explain. They will have a fully healthy Zion who has already left a mark on the league with his short return. They have experienced players surrounding him with Lonzo, Brandon Ingram, and Jrue Holiday. All these players know what it is like in these important games and will be able to help the youngster as well. Put that with the way the Pelicans were playing with Zion and, well you see the top team. This all added with JJ Redick’s playoff streaks and its just too easy, I’m just kidding. If they can just play like they were before the break then I see no problem with the Pelicans winning the Race for 8.
Top picture by NBC Sports