The Memphis Grizzlies are holding down that No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoff picture by three and a half games.
And even though there are four teams with a chance to catch them, with the Trail Blazers the closest by a percentage point, there is inner confidence that through the eight "seeding" games in Orlando, the Grizzlies will hold onto the berth.
First-year Memphis Coach Taylor Jenkins likes what he has seen from his squad in its three scrimmages, the last of which was a convincing win over Miami, after losses to Philadelphia and Houston.
"I think our guys are up for the challenge," Jenkins said Tuesday after the win over the Heat. "We're still far from being a finished product. The fact that we're taking positive steps every single day, every single game, that's very encouraging for me. I think our guys are focused on the task at hand each day."
Memphis has a young team and Jenkins seems intent on making sure his team doesn't get caught looking too far ahead in its fight to retain the playoff berth. The restart begins with Friday's very big game against the Trail Blazers.
"You know, the first game is Portland and once we get past Portland, it's on to the next opponent," he said. "So we're not looking too far ahead. We know what we're playing for and I'm not going to have to remind them every single day. We've just got to focus on what we do every day. These three (scrimmage) games are very encouraging to me. These guys are starting to click again. The chemistry is there.
"We're competing at a pretty high level and they're motivated to get better every single day."
A key piece of the Memphis attack is former Oregon star Dillon Brooks, a Canadian who wasn't selected in the 2017 draft until the 15th pick of the second round. But he's blossomed in Memphis and is averaging 15.7 points per game.
"He's so important to what we do on a daily basis," Jenkins said of the 6-7 swingman. "His competitive fire, his spirit -- you feel it when he gets it going at the offensive end. It just opens up the floor for us more.
"He's a very dynamic player on the offensive end. (And) he sets a tone for us defensively."
Ja Morant is the presumptive NBA Rookie of the Year and leads the team from the point guard position. But center Jonas Valanciunas has averaged 14.9 points and 11.2 rebounds and the 265-pounder is always a tough player for the Trail Blazers to handle.
It all starts Friday, with the coverage of the game set to begin at High Noon on NBC Sports Northwest.
The 'very dynamic' Dillon Brooks will lead Memphis vs. Trail Blazers Friday originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest