Ja Morant’s suspension makes for a shake up in the Western Conference, even if it is only for 25 games.
No NBA team is going to be able to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy after 25 games, though, in that same span, you can sink your chances. It is doubtful that it will happen to the Memphis Grizzlies, who have succeeded in other stretches where Morant has missed time. But, depending on how the Grizzlies schedule shakes out, it can determine the Western Conference Standings.
As Sam Presti said, “The sky falls on every NBA team at least two times a year.” Depending on who the matchups are for the Grizzlies, that could be a rough 25-game stretch. That is the difference in finishing in the top-six or the NBA Play-in tournament in the competitive conference.
We have also seen how the schedule impacts win totals. Last season, the OKC Thunder hosted an October baseball-style series with the L.A. Clippers. Star forward Kawhi Leonard sat out each game, Paul George only played in one, and the Thunder swept.
While it did not end up mattering, that set the table for the Thunder to earn the tie-breaker over the Clippers, which easily could have made the difference in the Western Conference standings.