Commentary

Can Suns, Grizzlies make playoffs?

The Blazers are now in the No. 8 spot, but Phoenix and Memphis pose big threats

Updated: February 3, 2011, 3:15 PM ET
By Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine
Mike ConleyChristian Peterson/Getty ImagesThe young Grizzlies talent is finally starting to gel, but watch out for the rejuvenated Suns.

The only thing Ric Bucher and Chris Broussard like to do more than report on the NBA is argue about the NBA. So we decided to combine those two skills for Insider's weekly One-on-One series, in which they'll debate the hottest topics in the association.

Question: Which current West lottery team has the best shot at making the postseason this year?

BUCHER: Although the first seven teams in the Western Conference have separated themselves from the pack, there promises to be a fierce fight for the eighth playoff spot, which is currently occupied by Portland. I just don't see the Blazers weathering another 35 games with all their injuries, and although I like the energy of the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers right now, I'm afraid they have too much ground to make up -- especially with the road-kill Clips facing 11 away games in a row. So I'm going with the Phoenix Suns to make their sixth playoff appearance in the past seven years.

BROUSSARD: I actually believe that the Portland Trail Blazers will hold on and keep the eighth playoff spot; LaMarcus Aldridge is playing terrifically and Nate McMillan is one of the league's top coaches. But if the Blazers fall, I believe that the Memphis Grizzlies are the team that will grab hold of that last postseason slot. Like you, I'd love to see the Clippers get in, but they have to win more than 70 percent of their remaining games to get to the 44 wins it's likely to take to make the playoffs. Thus, give me the Grizzlies!

Ric Bucher

NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer