For the last week, the Portland Trail Blazers have been embroiled in a late-season race for 2022 NBA Draft Lottery position. They have dueled 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.
Portland is sitting on a 27-54 record, 6th-worst in the NBA, with a single game remaining tomorrow against the Utah Jazz.
On Wednesday night, the Blazers were eliminated from any chance at the 4th position, courtesy of Oklahoma City’s 56th loss to those same Jazz.
Last night, Portland’s 50-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks ensured that they would not slip “upwards” to 7th in the standings where the Sacramento Kings reside. Sacramento has 51 losses with 2 games remaining, leaving them a maximum of 53 losses...not enough to reach Portland in the 6th spot.
That leaves just the 5th or 6th positions open to Portland.
The Indiana Pacers sit in the 5th spot with a 25-55 record. They play the Philadelphia 76’ers this afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets tomorrow, with both games on the road.
Should Indiana lose either of those contests, they will earn their 56th loss. Since Portland will max out at 55, that means the Pacers would finish with the 5th-worst record, Portland with the 6th.
If the Pacers win both their games and Portland loses to the Jazz on Sunday, the Blazers and Pacers would be deadlocked with a 27-55 final record. In that case, they’d flip a coin to see who gets the 5th spot and who the 6th in the draft lottery order.
What to Root For
If you’re a Portland fan, the best path is pretty simple. Root for the Pacers to upset the Sixers and Nets, and for Portland to lose on Sunday to the Jazz. If that happens, Portland and Indiana will tie for the 5th- and 6th-worst records in the standings. Otherwise Indiana will be 5th and Portland 6th.