The Portland Trail Blazers will be mathematically eliminated from the 2022 NBA Playoffs if they lose to the San Antonio Spurs tonight. Or, depending on how you look at it, they will guarantee themselves a lottery selection in the 2022 NBA Draft with a loss.
The Blazers and Spurs have faced each other twice this season, with the Spurs emerging victorious each time. They play each other twice more in the next 48 hours.
The Blazers currently stand at 27-49, 13th in the NBA Western Conference. The Spurs hold a 31-45 record, deadlocked with the Los Angeles Lakers, battling between the 10th and 11th positions. Whichever team finishes 10th will enter the Play-In Tournament to try and earn the eventual 8th seed in the playoffs, making that position critical to postseason hopes.
If the Blazers fall tonight, their losses will total 50, with 5 games remaining on the schedule. The Spurs would have 45 losses. Even if Portland won all 5 of their final games and the Spurs lost all 5, the teams would finish tied at 32-50.
By virtue of head-to-head record, the Blazers would lose a tie with the Spurs 3-1 in this scenario. That would keep them in 11th spot despite the improbable winning/losing combination between the teams at the end of the season.
The same would hold true if the Lakers or Sacramento Kings—the only other teams still capable of finishing with 50 losses—tied Portland and San Antonio. If the Blazers lose tonight, the Spurs will hold an advantage over them in every tie-breaking scenario, two-team or multi-team.
Portland and San Antonio tip off at 5:30 PM, Pacific tonight.