The first seven playoff seeds look comfortably set in the NBA’s Western Conference, but there is an insane race going on for the eighth and final seed.

There’s a legitimate five-team battle for that playoff spot, and the margin is super tight. With between 48 and 50 games played, the current leading team is only ahead of the final contender by four and a half games.

Here’s what we think of their chances, based on their remaining schedules.

Memphis Grizzlies (Current record: 24-25)

The Grizzlies have been playing well, but they’re also nursing a couple of injuries and have a relatively brutal schedule to end the season. A huge 139-111 loss to the Pelicans shows how much key injuries hurts them.

Unfortunately, their remaining games comprise mainly of playoff-bound teams as well.

This includes three games against the Mavericks, two games against the Lakers, Thunder, Rockets, Raptors, and 76ers, along with a game against the Celtics, Bucks and Clippers.

Particularly rough is their final 15 games, which will see 11 of them be played against teams jockeying for home-court advantage in the first round.

Memphis has certainly played great so far, but they’re still a young team and it doesn’t look good for them.


Portland Trail Blazers (Current record: 23-27)

The Blazers’ superstar Damian Lillard has been going supernova lately. He’s scored no less than 34 points in his last eight games, including four games where he scored 47, 50, 51, and 61 points.

They definitely have a softer schedule than the Grizzlies. They’ve still got both their games against Detroit to play, along with games against the Kings, Hornets, Wizards, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, and Warriors. If Kyrie Irving’s injury keeps him out for another extended period, they can look forward to playing the Brooklyn Nets without their star.

Their schedule also has a lot of showdowns against their rivals in the race for eighth, including three games against the Grizzlies, and two against the Suns and Pelicans. Their results haven’t been particularly great against their rivals, so Lillard will have to continue his crazy play. However, it does look like they have a great chance to make a run at the playoffs.


San Antonio Spurs (Current record: 22-26)

Coach Greg Popovich is somehow again proving that you can’t count him or any of his boys out until the last game of the season is played. They started the season with a 5-11 record thanks to an eight-game losing streak but somehow have fought their way back to 22-26.

Their next three games will be crucial, as they’re facing the Clippers and Lakers in back-to-back games, and then the aforementioned Blazers and Mr. Dame Time. They get a bit of a reprieve against the Kings, but then look at playing the Nuggets, Jazz, Thunder (twice), Mavericks, Magic, and Pacers.

Their schedule isn’t as bad as the Grizzlies’, but it’s no cakewalk. They’re going to have to steal a few games, but I’ve given up on doubting the Spurs. They have just as good a chance as anyone else.


Phoenix Suns (Current record: 20-29)

The Suns have a fair few winnable games against the Nets, Pistons (twice), Bulls (twice), Warriors, Timberwolves (twice), Wizards, and Cavaliers (twice).

However, they’ve also still got two more games against the Lakers, Rockets, Clippers, Mavericks and Jazz along with single games against the Nuggets, Raptors, Bucks, Pacers, 76ers, Thunder, and Heat.

The Suns have struggled to put together more than two wins in a row since the season started, and their remaining schedule isn’t very forgiving. Their chances of making the playoffs are slim.


New Orleans Pelicans (Current record: 20-30)

The Pelicans might have the softest schedule remaining out of this group. Their tough games are a pair against the Lakers, then single matchups against the Bucks, Pacers, Thunder, Mavericks, Jazz, Heat, Clippers, and 76ers.

The rest of their games are winnable, especially a pair of games against the Hawks, Kings and Wizards. They’ve also still got games against the Bulls, Warriors, Knicks, Timberwolves and Cavaliers to look forward to.

The Pelicans must back up their softer schedule by stealing games from their rivals, too. They’ll play the Spurs, Blazers and Grizzlies twice and the Suns one more time.

Good thing they’ve got Zion Williamson, who’s starting to look good alongside Brandon Ingram and the rest of their talented young core.