The home-stretch of the 2019-20 NBA regular season is underway, and the chaos is just beginning. As of March 1st, there are roughly six weeks left and anywhere from 24-26 games left to be played. This is where the real teams come to play. No mistakes can be made, no matchup is an easy one, and every team can play spoiler. There are currently five teams in the Western Conference fighting for that last spot currently held by the Memphis Grizzlies, while in the East, things seemed to be locked up for the most part.
The Memphis Grizzlies have finally been hit by the injury bug. After a fascinating start to the regular season and defying all odds, Ja Morant and company are falling…and falling fast. They’ve lost their last five games in a row and just had two of their biggest pieces, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke, sidelined with injuries for the foreseeable future. It doesn’t appear as if they’ll be able to hang on down the stretch, as they have a very terrible schedule the next six weeks.
Here’s what the current “In the Hunt” picture looks like in the West:
8. Memphis Grizzlies (28-31)
9. New Orleans Pelicans (26-33)
10. Portland Trailblazers (26-34)
11. Sacramento Kings (25-34)
12. San Antonio Spurs (24-33)
13. Phoenix Suns (24-36)
The Pelicans, Blazers, Kings, Spurs, and Suns are all within 2 and 4 games in the win column of catching Memphis and that coveted 8th seed. While any team would lose pretty handily in a 7-game bout with the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers, a playoff appearance for any of those teams would be enough for their organizations (maybe not the Spurs). A very popular matchup that many around the league want to see is the Zion Williamson/Brandon Ingram led New Orleans Pelicans against a LeBron lead Lakers team. In the grand scheme of things, there’s probably not much competition here, but it would bring great competition between the league’s rising stars and their forefathers before them.
Over in the East, the Brooklyn Nets have a 5-game lead on the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets, so the conference playoff picture seems just about wrapped up besides some shifting between the 3-6 teams.