The final round of regular season games in the NBA take place on Sunday and Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers are battling for the final automatic play-off spot.
There is just one place left in the Western Conference and either the Blazers or the Lakers can take sixth seed. Aside from seedings, the other play-in and play-off places have all been decided in the West and in the Eastern Conference.
Portland Primed for Denver Showdown
Portland have the advantage in the fight for sixth seed as they currently hold that place in the West and know a win will guarantee their play-off involvement, irrespective of how the Lakers fare against the New Orleans Pelicans.
However, the Blazers face a trickier game against Northwest Division rivals Denver Nuggets, who sit fourth but can still take third seed in the West.
Portland have lost both meetings with Denver this season but they are the team in greater need on Sunday and home-court advantage should work in their favour.
Lakers Too Strong for Pelicans
The Lakers welcomed back LeBron James in their win over Indiana Pacers last time out in a huge boost to their postseason hopes, irrespective of whether or not they have to come through the play-in tournament.
The defending champions head to the Pelicans and even if they do decide to limit James’ minutes, and fellow key man Anthony Davis’, they should still have too much for a New Orleans team who are limping over the finish line.
The Pelicans looked on course for a play-in place for stages this season but have fallen short and, with key pair Zion Williamson and former Laker Brandon Ingram missing, it is hard to see them making any sort of impact against the Lakers.
The Lakers have won each of their last four games and can beat a -10.5 points handicap against a weakened Pelicans team at
Grizzlies Meet Dubs For Favourable Run
Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies will definitely have to come through the play-in tournament to reach the playoffs, but one team will get a clearer run to the postseason depending on who win’s Sunday’s match-up between the two at the Chase Center in San Francisco.
The winner will finish in eighth spot and will only have to win one game to reach the playoffs, while the loser will finish in ninth place and will then have to beat San Antonio Spurs and then the loser of the game between seventh and eighth to reach the postseason proper.
Both teams have a number of injury concerns. Stephen Curry is rated as questionable for the Dubs, as are Danny Green and Andrew Wiggins, while four players are definitely unavailable. Memphis could be without star guard Ja Morant and starting center Jonas Valanciunas for the key game as both have back issues.
The injury issues make this one hard to call but if Golden State do have Curry involved they will fancy their chances. The Warriors have been in good form, particularly at home where they have nine wins in their last 10 games, while Memphis have struggled on their travels and have three defeats in their last five games – and their two wins came against teams who are outside of the postseason spots.
*All odds correct at time of writing