The Portland Trail Blazers are in a late-season race for 2022 NBA Draft Lottery position. They are dueling with the Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, and Oklahoma City Thunder to see how the lower echelons of the NBA standings will sort out between now and the end of the season on Sunday.
The Blazers currently own a 27-52 record with three games remaining on their schedule: tonight versus the New Orleans Pelicans, Friday against the Dallas Mavericks, then home on Sunday for the season finale against the Utah Jazz.
Last night the Thunder fell to the Jazz 137-101, earning their 56th loss. If Portland loses their three remaining games, they will finish with 55 losses, one short of OKC. Since they can no longer catch Oklahoma City, the Blazers have now been eliminated from the 4th position in the lottery standings.
Portland still has a theoretical chance to tie the Indiana Pacers for the 5th/6th positions. Indiana currently has 55 losses. Two games remain on their schedule, against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets. If the Pacers win both those games and the Blazers lose all three of theirs, the teams would finish the season with equal records. Their draft/odds position would then be decided by a coin flip.
Any other result eliminates Portland from the 5th position as well.
The Blazers do have a chance to “fall” to the 7th lottery position. Currently, the Sacramento Kings sit right above Portland with a 29-51 record. The teams are separated by only one loss.
The Kings have two games remaining on their schedule, on the road against the Clippers and Suns.
If they lose both those games, Sacramento will finish with 53 losses. This is as low as they can go. Since Portland has 52 losses already, the Blazers are in control of their own destiny. If they lose one more game, the best the Kings can do is tie them. If Portland loses two games, they will finish below the Kings in the standings, earning the superior lottery position.
What to Watch
Here’s what to root for if you want the Blazers to get the best lottery odds:
- Portland loses their game tonight against the Pelicans, and all their remaining games, really. One win would eliminate the Blazers from the 5th position. All wins put them at greater risk of ending the season in a tie with Sacramento for the 6th/7th positions.
- The Pacers win on Saturday against the Sixers and Sunday against the Nets, as any Indiana loss eliminates Portland from the 5th position
- The Kings winning Saturday against the Clippers or Sunday against the Suns would be insurance, but is not necessary if the Blazers lose at least two of their three remaining games.
The Blazers and Pelicans play at 5:00 PM, Pacific tonight.