Neither is locked into the final two postseason seeds, however.
Hoping to make a push for the West’s sixth seed, the Hornets and Grizzlies both look to continue their late-season surges when they meet Sunday at FedEx Forum.
New Orleans (46-33) secured a playoff berth by beating Houston on Wednesday, and Memphis (45-34) clinched the conference’s final spot Friday with a 101-96 win over Sacramento.
The Grizzlies, who have won eight of 10, are heading to the postseason for the first time since 2006.
“I’m ecstatic,” said point guard Mike Conley(notes), who had 12 points and eight assists Friday. “For guys that have been here for the long ride, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs. This team has fought. We’ve had some guys go down. We’ve gone through a lot of adversity. For us to be in this situation at the end of the season, clinching a playoff spot is (exciting).”
Although Memphis is in the postseason, it still has the opportunity to move up in its last three regular-season contests.
The Grizzlies are one game back of seventh-place New Orleans and 1 1/2 behind sixth-place Portland, and have games remaining against each.
The Hornets, winners of three straight and six of eight, are obviously in a similar position. They’re just one-half game back of the Trail Blazers and own the tiebreaker, having won three of four in the season series.
New Orleans may be trying to avoid a first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, who are likely to claim the No. 2 seed. The two-time reigning NBA champions outscored the Hornets by an average of 10.8 points in sweeping the season series.
“We want to go into the playoffs full-steam ahead and not backing into it,” Chris Paul(notes) said after Friday’s 109-97 win over Phoenix. “We just continue to work and keep trying to get as good as we can.”
Paul had seven points and 12 assists against the Suns, as reserve Willie Green(notes) carried New Orleans’ offense, connecting on his first 12 shots and finishing with a season-high 31 points. The Hornets won for the fifth time in seven games since losing leading scorer David West(notes) to an ACL injury.
New Orleans won the first two meetings of the season against the Grizzlies before losing to them 93-81 at home last Friday.
Paul had 13 assists but finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting, and Memphis held the Hornets to a season-low 12 points in the first quarter.
The Grizzlies have been playing sound defense lately, limiting their last 10 opponents to an average of 89.2 points. Memphis is 22-3 this season when holding opponents to 91 points or fewer.
Zach Randolph(notes) led the Grizzlies against New Orleans last week with 28 points. He scored 27 on Friday, and has reached the 20-point mark five times in the last six games after scoring 19 or fewer in each of his previous five.
Randolph has scored at least 20 in 11 of his last 13 games versus the Hornets.