With the Memphis Grizzlies fumbling away the eight seed in the West by dropping their first three games in the bubble, their road just got a lot tougher with second-year forward and rising star Jaren Jackson Jr. being ruled out for the rest of the re-seeding games and the playoffs.

The NBA has adopted a new format for its lower-seeded teams where there is a play-in tournament before the playoffs between the eight and ninth seed if the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth. Also in this tournament, the ninth seed would have to win two games to get into the playoffs while the eight seed only has to win one. At the start of the seeding games, Memphis had a sizable lead on the other playoff hopefuls but now they are only a game and a half up on the surging Portland Trailblazers which made it to the Western Conference Finals last season and were ravaged by injuries this year, but, have gotten injured starters Jusif Nurkic and Zach Collins back making them a playoffs dark horse.

Jackson Jr. averaged 17-5 this year while bringing good switchable defense and outside shooting and is considered the Grizzlies second-best player to Ja Morant. The Grizzlies have the hardest schedule in the league by win percentage for this restart and the Trail Blazer’s schedule is no cakewalk either, so this race will still be close but with Memphis sputtering the way, the possibility is still alive that they won’t even get a playoff tournament if they lose out.

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