Trail Blazers favored to beat Memphis Grizzlies despite bleak playoff odds

The scrimmages are over and the next time the Portland Trail Blazers take the court the games will count. 

The Trail Blazers went 0-3 in their scrimmages, falling in their final contest to the Oklahoma City Thunder 131-120 Tuesday. 

In their final warm-up game though, not a lot could be gleaned from the team’s performance. Damian Lillard sat out for his second-straight game with left foot inflammation. His backcourt counterpart CJ McCollum joined him on the bench and did not participate. 

So, after three scrimmages, it’s safe to say that we didn’t learn a lot about the team. 

There are a lot of confidences and concerns heading into Portland’s first seeding game vs. Memphis Friday: 

Confidence: Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are back.

Concern: The starting lineup hasn’t played meaningful minutes together. Also, what is the starting lineup?

The Trail Blazers will have eight games to prove if they’re worthy of continuing on and grabbing the eight seed from the Memphis Grizzlies, who sit 3.5 games ahead of Portland.

There are currently six teams vying for the eighth and final playoff spot. Along with the aforementioned Blazers and Grizzlies, the Pelicans, Kings, Spurs and Suns will play out their final eight games for the right to be the eight seed.

And while the Trail Blazers were originally dissenters in voting for the NBA’s return to play, their goal was just to get a fair shot. 

«As a competitor, I’m happy we will get an opportunity to continue and try to make a run in the playoffs,» Damian Lillard said ahead of going into the NBA’s bubble in Orlando. «I think the plan going forward is fair.»

But, when the Trail Blazers suit up against the Grizzlies Friday, their path to the playoffs may be insurmountable. 

According to ESPN, the Trail Blazers have less than a 10% chance at reaching the playoffs. 

ESPN’s NBA Basketball Power Index (BPI) is a predictor of a team’s performance for the rest of the season. BPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. BPI accounts for game-by-game efficiency, strength of schedule, pace, days of rest, game location and preseason expectations.

The deck may just be stacked against the Blazers. 

Portland’s schedule against the other 5 teams contending for the eight seed is the toughest. They could play their best basketball and it might not even matter. 

Damian Lillard has never backed down from a challenge, though, and the Trail Blazers will have to focus on themselves to make their playoff push happen. 

Those odds don’t scare Rip City, either. 

Here’s the results of a Twitter poll NBCSNW conducted regarding the Blazers’ chances.

And even Vegas is liking the Trail Blazers’ chances, at least in their opening game vs. Memphis. 

Portland is a 1.5 to 2-point favorite in the seeding game opener. 

Never say never and don’t expect Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers to bend to adversity. They thrive in this setting. 

Trail Blazers favored to beat Memphis Grizzlies despite bleak playoff odds originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest