You couldn't script it any better.
The first three days of the NBA's restart have gone perfectly for the Portland Trail Blazers who are aiming to qualify for the franchise's seventh consecutive playoff appearance.
To do so, they either need to remain in the ninth seed and within four games of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, most likely Memphis, to force a play-in series of games or earn the eighth seed outright during the seeding games and then win one of the play-in games.
Heading into the restart in Orlando, the Blazers had possession of the ninth seed and sat 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the West, tied with New Orleans and Sacramento. Then, San Antonio was only 4 games behind Memphis and a 0.5 game behind Portland.
If the Blazers are tied for the ninth seed after the seeding games in terms of games back from the eighth seed, Portland would win the tiebreaker due to win percentage because they played, and by consequence won, more games before the season got suspended on March 11.
Through 72 hours of the seeding games, everything has gone according to plan for the Trail Blazers.
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Portland defeated Memphis in the first seeding game on Friday in a thrilling, 140-135 overtime victory to gain a game on the Grizzlies. The Blazers (30-37) are now 2.5 games behind Memphis (32-35) with seven games remaining for each team.
Next, Memphis plays San Antonio on Sunday, August 2nd at 1:00 p.m. PT.
Speaking of which, the San Antonio Spurs (28-36) defeated the Sacramento Kings (28-37), 129-120 on Friday which drops the Kings down the standings, where they are now a full game (1.0) behind Portland for the ninth seed.
The Kings will play the Orlando Magic on Sunday, August 2nd at 3:00 p.m. PT.
Then, the New Orleans Pelicans (28-38) have lost both of their first two seeding games, 106-104 to Utah in the first seeding game of the restart and 126-103 to the Los Angeles Clippers. The losses made New Orleans drop to 1.5 games behind Portland with one less game remaining than the Trail Blazers.
However, something else to keep in mind: New Orleans has one of the easiest 'seeding games' schedules when looking at the teams battling for the final playoff spot out West while Portland has nothing but playoff teams until ending the regular season against Brooklyn (who is technically a playoff team but is so shorthanded that should be a easy win for Portland).
The buffer from the opening three days will come in handy while Portland fights to play beyond the eight seeding games in Florida.
New Orleans now must shift their attention to Monday, August 3rd when they play the Memphis Grizzlies at 3:30 p.m. PT. It'll be the second of a back-to-back for the Grizzlies.
The Portland Trail Blazers will seek to increase their lead on the other contenders for the ninth seed on Sunday, August 2nd against the Boston Celtics at 12:30 p.m. PT here on NBC Sports Northwest.
Here are the standings as of 6:00 p.m. on Saturday with only the Lakers playing afterward.