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NBA campus intel – Schedule and live updates for Day 14 of seeding games – ESPN

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The Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers tipped things off on Wednesday in a game that helped decide the remaining seeds in the East. The Pacers’ win locked them into the No.4-No. 5 matchup with the Miami Heat, with Friday’s meeting between the two to decide the final seeding. The Philadelphia 76ers are locked into the No. 6 spot with Indiana’s win. With that, all four Eastern Conference first-round matchups are set.

The playoff picture in the West, however, might not be decided until Friday. The Clippers can secure the No. 2 seed with a win over the Nuggets on Wednesday. The Rockets’ loss to the Pacers secures a No. 4-No. 5 matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder, with final seeding still to be decided in the final regular-season games. All four West teams competing for the final two play-in spots will play Thursday to close out the playoff picture.

Here’s the latest on the standings, the games to watch Wednesday and Thursday, and everything you need to know. Check back for highlights and updates throughout the day.

PAST BUBBLE INTEL: July 30 | July 31 | Aug. 1 | Aug. 2 | Aug. 3 | Aug. 4 | Aug. 5 | Aug. 6 | Aug. 7 | Aug. 8 | Aug. 9 | Aug. 10 | Aug. 11


Latest buzz

Grizzlies will not face Giannis in final seeding game

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Giannis Antetokounpo says he had built-up anger from the lack of foul calls during the restart, which is what led to him headbutting Mortiz Wagner.

If the Memphis Grizzlies can take care of business on Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks, they might need to send Moe Wagner a thank you note.

The Grizzlies are 1-6 in the bubble and are at risk of falling out of playoff contention, but they caught a break on Wednesday when the NBA announced that Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss Thursday’s game while serving a one-game suspension for head-butting Wagner on Tuesday.

Memphis’ situation is simple: Win, and they’re in the play-in. Lose, and it’s out of their hands.

The Bucks are locked into the East’s top seed and don’t have a lot of incentive to play their best players anyway, and Antetokounmpo’s suspension made at least one decision easy for coach Mike Budenholzer.

But that’s not of the Grizzlies’ concern. Following Tuesday’s loss to the Boston Celtics, coach Taylor Jenkins said they’re trying to keep the focus on themselves, maintaining they just haven’t met their own standard. Doesn’t hurt that the reigning MVP won’t be getting in the way of finally finding it, though. — Royce Young

Nick Nurse lets his assistant coach vs. Sixers

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse is letting assistant Adrian Griffin take over the team for Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the team announced about 90 minutes prior to tip-off.

Griffin thanked Nurse for the opportunity during pregame media availability.

“I think [Nurse] is an awesome human being,” Griffin said. “He understands that a coach like me needs some reps at being a head coach. He knows my ambition and wants to see me grow as an individual on and off the court. It’s an awesome gesture by coach. He approached me with it. It just shows what kind of character that Coach Nurse has. We have a first-class organization for a reason.” — Andrew Lopez


Wednesday’s must-see games

LA Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets | 9 p.m. ET

Before LA Clippers practice on Tuesday, coach Doc Rivers allowed himself a brief moment to wonder what it will be like having Montrezl Harrell back with the team.

Harrell, who left the bubble last month to tend to a family emergency, is currently in quarantine after returning and could potentially rejoin the team Friday.

“It would be kind of nice to have our normal rotation at least one time in the bubble,” said Rivers, who hasn’t had his full roster available in Florida. “We have to be the only team that has not had their normal rotation one game this entire bubble stretch.”

Actually, the Clippers are not alone. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone knows this pain all too well.

Entering Wednesday night’s game between the Nuggets and Clippers, Malone hasn’t had his full roster available. He hasn’t had starters Gary Harris and Will Barton available for any of the seeding games, and he just got Jamal Murray back for a couple of games.

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Despite the fact that both teams have been missing key players, the Clippers and Nuggets have managed to maintain their No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, in the Western Conference. The Clippers (47-23) can clinch the 2-seed with a win over the Nuggets. Denver (46-25) could fall as low as No. 4 if it loses its remaining two games and Houston (44-26) wins out.

A Denver win over the Clippers would give the Nuggets the peace of mind that they won’t run into the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers until the Western Conference finals at the earliest. And of course, if both the Nuggets and Clippers remain in the second and third spots, they would potentially face each other in the second round.

With almost half the roster arriving late to the bubble and others getting injured once inside, the Nuggets didn’t even have enough players to go 5-on-5 in practices for much of their time in the bubble. They’ve endured a rash of injuries to Harris (right hip muscle strain), Barton (right knee soreness) and Murray (hamstring). But the emergence of Michael Porter Jr. has helped the Nuggets stay ahead of the fourth-place Rockets by a game and a half.

The Clippers also had late arrivals to the bubble but then had three players — Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Harrell — leave to tend to excused family emergencies. Harrell left on July 17 and just returned late Sunday night and will not be available to play Wednesday. Beverley will miss his fourth straight game because of a left calf strain and guard Landry Shamet is also out because of a left foot sprain.

But Rivers’ team is inching toward being whole again with Harrell potentially out of quarantine in time for Friday’s regular-season finale against Oklahoma City. Williams said Tuesday that opponents need to beware of a motivated Harrell once the Sixth Man of the Year finalist returns.

The Nuggets’ picture of health isn’t as clear. Malone isn’t certain when he will have a fully healthy team in the bubble, but he made it clear he won’t sit and wait for that moment to happen either.

Of course, Porter averaging 23.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 46.3% shooting from beyond the arc in the bubble helps a lot. And reserves like Monte Morris, PJ Dozier and Bol Bol have responded with playing time, and nearly upset the Lakers on Monday night.

“I am not trying to sound cold-blooded, but we can’t wait for the guys that are injured,” Malone said. “The playoffs are not going to wait for us and we can’t wait for the injured guys. Whoever is ready to play and can play, let’s go out there and compete.” — Ohm Youngmisuk

Additional games

Full scoreboard for Wednesday

The Clippers are anxious to get their dynamic bench duo of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell back together on the court. Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Updated West play-in standings

8. Portland Trail Blazers | 34-39 (.466) | —
t-9. Memphis Grizzlies | 33-39 (.458) | 0.5 GB
t-9. Phoenix Suns | 33-39 (.458) | 0.5 GB
11. San Antonio Spurs | 32-38 (.457) | 0.5 GB

MORE: NBA Western Conference play-in scenarios


Thursday’s must-see games

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Memphis Grizzlies | 4 p.m. ET

Memphis can guarantee itself a shot in the play-in tournament with a victory against the Bucks, locking up at least the No. 9 seed. A win and a loss by Portland later in the night gets the Grizzlies to the eighth spot, giving them the upper hand in the play-in. The good news for Memphis is it probably won’t have to face a full-strength Bucks’ squad. Giannis Antetokounmpo might sit out the game anyway because of his head-butt ejection from Tuesday’s game. Milwaukee could opt to rest more starters heading into the playoffs with the top seed in the East already locked up. — Andrew Lopez

Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns | 4 p.m. ET

Like the Grizzlies, the Suns might also benefit from a team that is looking toward the playoffs rather than going all out in the final seeding game. With Tuesday’s loss to Portland, Dallas is locked in to the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The Mavericks could look to rest Luka Doncic (32 points, 11.3 assists, 11 rebounds in six bubble games) and Kristaps Porzingis (30.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks in six bubble games), which could open things up for Phoenix. Even though the Suns are looking to get to 8-0, a trip to the playoffs isn’t guaranteed. They need one of Memphis or Portland to lose, combined with a win of their own. It would be Phoenix’s first eight-game winning streak since 2010, which is also the last time the Suns made the playoffs. — Lopez

San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz | 6:30 p.m. ET

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked what he would have said if a month ago someone told him San Antonio had a chance to go 6-2 in the bubble and make the playoffs. “I would have had them drug-tested,” Popovich deadpanned. Popovich noted that when your team doesn’t have championship aspirations, you have to look toward development. Luckily for the Spurs, that has turned into a possible playoff berth. Because of percentage points though, the Spurs need more help than others. Utah, however, could be playing for matchups in the playoffs. Currently No. 6, the Jazz have a chance to move up a spot if things bounce their way with other games. — Lopez

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In his second straight game scoring more than 50 points, Damian Lillard racks up 61 points and eight assists as he leads the Trail Blazers to a 134-131 victory in a wild game against the Mavericks.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Brooklyn Nets | 9 p.m. ET

You should really just be tuning into this game to see what Damian Lillard does next: 51 points? 61 points? More? Who knows. Lillard is averaging a bubble-best 37 points while also putting up 9.3 assists in 41.4 minutes. CJ McCollum is the only other player in Florida averaging 40.0 minutes as Portland has leaned on their one-two combo to keep the Blazers in playoff contention. Brooklyn is locked in as the No. 7 seed and Jacque Vaughn — coaching for a chance to continue on as the Nets’ head coach next season — has his team 5-2 overall with three straight wins. — Lopez

Additional games

  • Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics | Noon p.m. ET

  • Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers | 1:30 p.m. ET

  • New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic | 9 p.m. ET

Full scoreboard for Thursday


Analysis and intel

NBA Power Rankings: A shake-up in the top 5 as playoff matchups take shape

The playoff picture is beginning to take shape as the final week of seeding games begins.

West play-in predictions: Suns perfect, Lillard spectacular, but who gets in?

Phoenix is 7-0 and Portland keeps winning. Here are the latest projections for the four-team race.

Eight games that will swing the NBA playoff race this week

To get you ready for this stretch run, our NBA experts highlight the eight games that will decide the playoff picture.



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