With the Clippers' defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies last night, the Portland Trail Blazers' playoff path is significantly clearer. The Grizzlies can no longer catch the Blazers in the standings due to the tiebreaker, so the Blazers are therefore guaranteed at least the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
All eyes now turn to the Dallas Mavericks: At 5:00 pm, the Mavericks and Spurs tip off. If the Mavericks lose, the Blazers are guaranteed the fifth seed before they ever take the court. If the Mavericks win, the Blazers must beat the Denver Nuggets in order to grab the fifth seed, and a date with the Los Angeles Clippers. Otherwise, they fall to sixth behind the Mavericks, and will play the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Mavs' task is a bit easier, as the Spurs are planning to rest much of their rotation:
List of #Spurs not playing in DAL tonight: Aldridge, Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, Leonard, West— Mike Monroe (@Monroe_SA) April 13, 2016
With that said, the five-seven seeds in the west can still take on several permutations depending on the outcome of tonight's games. Following is a handy flowchart of playoff possibilities. This flow chart is in chronological order: Start at the top with tonight's game between the Spurs and Mavs, then work your way down as that game finishes
Note: The Grizzlies vs. Warriors contest is irrelevant to Portland since Memphis can't catch the Blazers, but we've left it on the chart so readers can also track the six seed/seven seed race between Memphis and Dallas.
And for those of you that prefer flow-spreadsheets, we have this option: