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Memphis Grizzlies Playoff Standings Update: An Important Week in Memphis

Heading in to the final two and a half weeks of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies are virtually assured a playoff spot and may clinch it this week. What seed they will be may be decided the next seven days as well.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies are entering perhaps the most important week of their season to date with regard to securing the "easiest" path possible in the Western Conference playoffs. Here's a check on the standings out West as of March 28th for the top nine teams in the playoff picture. Remember, only eight advance to the postseason.

Team Record Games Back
1. Golden State Warriors (Clinched Pacific Division) 66-7 0
2. San Antonio Spurs (Clinched Southwest Division) 61-12 5.0
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (Clinched Northwest Division) 51-22 15.0
4. Los Angeles Clippers (Clinched Playoff Birth) 45-27 20.5
5. Memphis Grizzlies 41-32 25.0
6. Portland Trail Blazers 38-36 28.5
7. Utah Jazz 36-37 30.0
8. Houston Rockets 36-38 30.5
9. Dallas Mavericks 35-38 31.0

Before we get Grizz-centric, let's talk about the West at large.

  • The San Antonio Spurs have won 61 games and are five games back of the one seed Warriors with nine games to play for both teams. The historic level of success that Golden State is achieving this regular season is remarkable, and their chase for the 95-96 Bulls record could very well end in Memphis. If the Warriors win out between now and their April 9th game against the Grizzlies at FedExForum, they will be 72-7. They could break the regular season wins mark in the Bluff City. The Spurs and the Warriors appear to be on a collision course.
  • The top-four seeds have been all but clinched at this point. Oklahoma City is the likely three seed, and the Clippers are the presumptive four seed, barring epic collapses. That would mean, if the first round goes chalk, The Clippers would meet the Warriors in a high-flying first round match-up while the athletic Thunder may well be able to beat the Spurs, who have struggled with OKC in the past.
  • Three teams are battling it out for the final two playoff spots. The Jazz, Rockets, and Mavericks are all within a game of each other from the seven to the nine seed. The Trail Blazers are only a game and a half up on the Jazz for the six seed, but Portland seems solidly in the postseason considering their upcoming schedule (more on that in a moment.
For the Grizzlies, this week may make or break their five seed dreams. They are almost surely in the playoffs right now- if Memphis went 0-9 the rest of the way, starting tonight against the Spurs, Dallas would have to go 5-4 to avoid all tiebreaker situations without Chandler Parsons, who is out for the rest of the season after knee surgery. That is unlikely. What is more likely is a fall from the five seed, with Portland and Utah playing good basketball as of late.

How do the schedules shake out this week? Let's take a look-

Team Monday 3/28 Tuesday 3/29 Wednesday 3/30 Thursday 3/31 Friday 4/1 Saturday 4/2 Sunday 4/3
Memphis Grizzlies vs Spurs vs Nuggets vs Raptors @ Magic
Portland Trail Blazers vs Kings vs Celtics vs Heat @ Warriors
Utah Jazz vs Lakers vs Warriors vs T'Wolves @ Suns
Houston Rockets @ Cavaliers vs Bulls vs Thunder
Dallas Mavericks @ Nuggets vs Knicks @ Pistons @ T'Wolves

So why is this week arguably the most important for the Grizzlies to essentially clinch the five seed?

Assuming the Jazz/Rockets/Mavericks cannot catch the Grizzlies at this point, this is Memphis' chance to solidify the space between them and Portland. The Grizzlies play two playoff teams this week, but one of them, the Spurs tonight, will for sure be without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, while Kawhi Leonard is questionable with a Quad injury. Portland, meanwhile, plays three current playoff teams, with one of them being the mighty Warriors, who have not lost at home at all this season.

Say Memphis and Portland both go 2-2 this week. That puts the Grizzlies at 43-34 and the Trail Blazers at 40-38, and means Portland remains four losses back of Memphis with four games to go for Portland and five games to go for the Grizzlies. If the Grizzlies can somehow win three games, while Portland only wins two? Considering the situations of the teams behind Memphis and Portland (Mavericks without Parsons, Rockets playing Cleveland/Chicago/OKC, Jazz playing the Warriors this week.) the Grizzlies will be in prime playoff position...for them, at least.
The road to the playoffs gets much harder for Memphis in seven days. They must take hold of the five seed now.

After Sunday April 3rd, Memphis plays teams that are all either in the playoff hunt or solidly in, including two games against the Warriors and games against the Clippers and Bulls. Wins will be hard to come by. If they can take advantage of a resting Spurs team and "win the games they are supposed to" against Denver and Orlando, the five seed will almost certainly belong to the Grizzlies. A date with the Clippers will await them, who while they will surely be favored in a first-round match-up are not as bad of a series as any of the other top-three teams for Memphis.

Have a bad week? Hello OKC/San Antonio/Golden State first round, goodbye second round dreams.

Expectations change due to injury. Considering the extended absences of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, a first round playoff victory would have to be considered a massive success for the Grizzlies. Their best shot at that lies at the five seed, and this week is Memphis' best remaining opportunity to secure that for themselves.