LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The race in the Western Conference for two play-in game spots will go down to the wire.
And the difference could be razor close — just about the slimmest possible.
A season like none other in NBA history may get a finish like none other, at least in the West. An analysis by The Associated Press shows there is a scenario where the final difference between teams in the play-in race could be less than 0.001% — yes, less than one thousandth of a percent.
Memphis, Portland, San Antonio and Phoenix — the still-unbeaten-in-the-bubble, 6-0 at Disney Suns — are the last four teams standing in the race for the last West spot. The margin between the eighth-place Grizzlies and 11th-place Spurs, entering Tuesday, is just one game, and all four clubs have two games remaining.
All four teams play Tuesday. If Memphis and Portland both win, and Phoenix and San Antonio both lose, the race is over and the Grizzlies and Blazers clinch spots.
Otherwise, the race goes to Thursday, when it’ll have to be known who the two clubs are that will be headed to the best-of-two play-in series. The ninth-place finisher will have to beat the eighth-place finisher twice to advance.
That series starts Saturday on ABC. Game 2, if necessary, is Sunday on ESPN. And by then, finally, someone will be able to start preparing for a West first-round series against the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.
The super-close scenarios are mind-blowing. Try this: Should Phoenix and San Antonio both win their final two games, it would see the Suns finish ahead of the Spurs by 0.00096 percentage points.