Spurs play Grizzlies tonight; Here’s everything to know about NBA Play-In Tournament

This week’s Spurs newsletter is all about the play-in game and Tim Duncan’s hall of fame induction

San Antonio Spurs' DeMar DeRozan, right, drives past Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant as James Harden, left, watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (Frank Franklin II, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s note: To sign up for our Spurs newsletter, or other KSAT newsletters, follow this link.

We’re switching things up a bit in this week’s KSAT.com Spurs newsletter. San Antonio is in the Western Conference Play-In Tournament and there are several questions about what this is and what’s at stake. Let’s get to it.

How does this all work?

The NBA’s Play-In Tournament is determining the final two seeds (No. 7 and No. 8) in each conference to qualify for the first round of the playoffs.

The top six teams in both conferences have qualified for the playoffs. Teams No. 7-10 in the standings are participating in the play-in games. San Antonio finished as the No. 10 seed in the West. Memphis is No. 9, Golden State is No. 8 and the LA Lakers are No. 7.

The seventh (Lakers) and eighth (Warriors) place teams play one another with the winner earning the No. 7 seed. The loser of that game plays the winner of the game between the ninth place team (Grizzlies) and the tenth place team (Spurs). The winner of that game becomes the No. 8 seed and would play the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.

To give the teams that had a better record during the regular season an advantage, teams 7-8 need to win just one play-in game to advance and teams 9-10 need to win two games. The Spurs would need to win at Memphis and then win again on the road against either the Warriors or Lakers to qualify for the playoffs. The highest seed San Antonio can get is eighth.

(NBA Playoff format and play-in tournament.)

What’s the schedule of games?

The East play-in games started on Tuesday night with Charlotte (10) at Indiana (9) and Washington (8) at Boston (7). The Pacers beat the Hornets and Celtics beat the Wizards. The Celtics earned the No. 7 seed in the East and now the Pacers and Wizards will play for the No. 8 seed.

The Western Conference games will be played Wednesday night. The Spurs play at Memphis at 6:30 p.m. CT, followed by Golden State and Los Angeles at 9 pm CT. The game to determine the No. 8 seed in the West will be played Friday night.

The Spurs went 1-2 against the Grizzlies this season. San Antonio won the regular season opener at Memphis on Dec. 23, and then lost back-to-back home games against the Grizzlies on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1.

LaMarcus Aldridge was still a starter for the Spurs for all three games and San Antonio did not face Memphis with Jaren Jackson, Jr. in the lineup.

(West play-in schedule)

What happens if the Spurs lose in the tournament?

Well, the season is over. But it’s not all bad. San Antonio is currently tied with Charlotte to get the No. 11 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft Lottery.

Charlotte was eliminated on Tuesday night so if San Antonio loses, a coin flip will determine who picks 11th. If the Spurs do make the playoffs, they would fall out of the lottery altogether.

Will the tournament be around for seasons to come?

That has not been determined. This tournament was essentially a byproduct of the league’s shortened 72-game season. This season was impacted by the pandemic and started in late December. The NBA has stated it would like to go back to its regular calendar with an 82-game season starting in October.

Hope this all helps! If you have questions or comments about the newsletter or the tournament, hit me up at rmarquez@ksat.com.

RECAPPING TIM DUNCAN’S BIG NIGHT: I would be remiss if I did not recap Tim Duncan’s night after his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The biggest surprise of the night? Duncan speaking for a full 12 minutes!

We have a full recap of Tim’s night and his great speech here. And someone was chopping onions when Tim was talking about his relationship with Coach Pop. Check out that emotional moment here, plus our previous newsletter where we discussed TD’s greatest moments as a Spur.

Tim Duncan gives credit to San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich during Duncan's enshrinement as part of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The most interesting Spur in the world, or former Spurs player, is Manu Ginobili. What has Manu been up to? No surprise here, but the old Spurs No. 20 was at Timmy’s induction ceremony along with fellow Big Three teammate Tony Parker. One of the most heartfelt moments of Tim’s speech was when he thanked Manu and TP for their friendship and brotherhood. You can watch that here. Ginobili will be up for hall of fame consideration in 2022 and Parker shortly after that, so the famed Spurs Big 3 will be reunited again soon. TIM. TONY. MANU. FOREVER.

(Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker.)

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About the Author:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio.