Blazers’ Carmelo Anthony speaks out on potentially clinching 8th seed, facing Lakers
The Portland Trail Blazers have won four out of their first six seeding games during the restart, inching them closer to the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
One of the team’s top contributors (and best stories) in the bubble has been provided by Carmelo Anthony. The veteran forward is averaging 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in nearly 35 minutes per game in Orlando, including multiple clutch buckets.
After Portland’s 124-121 overtime victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday—featuring 51 points from Damian Lillard—the Blazers (33-39) sit just 0.5 games back of the reeling Memphis Grizzlies (33-38) for the eighth seed. The red-hot Phoenix Suns (32-39) and cagey San Antonio Spurs (31-38) remain in the hunt, too.
Per the bubble rules, a play-in tournament for the final seed will occur if the ninth seed is within four games of the final playoff spot. The ninth seed would then have to beat the eighth seed in back-to-back games to qualify for the postseason.
Anthony discussed his confidence in the now-healthy Blazers to end up in the final eight in a conversation with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.
“We came down here under that impression—that we was coming down here to do some work…to lock in… to try get that 8 seed…We’ve been following along that path….Everybody is doing their job, everybody is buying in.”
If Portland is able to squeeze into the playoffs, they’ll face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers—pitting Anthony against his long-time friend and foe, LeBron James. L.A. has struggled at Disney World, winning just two of their six contests.
According to Anthony, the Blazers don’t view themselves as an underdog, and they certainly won’t be intimated by the matchup.
“We don’t consider ourselves an eight seed…We consider ourselves a very good basketball team coming together at the right time…Our mindset is: that’s the spot we wanted,” he said.
Anthony touches on a wide range of issues in the conversation, including the his work to make an impact off-the-court through his Social Change Fund, the importance of voting, editing the recent social justice-themed issue of SLAM, and more.
What's a little thunder & lighting among friends? Definitely the most unusual convo @CarmeloAnthony & I have had in 15 years of sitting down together 😂 Smart, funny, fascinating stuff on his fight for real social change. Oh, and all the noise he & the Blazers are making here too pic.twitter.com/li7zuAuy35
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) August 10, 2020
The Blazers will face the Dallas Mavericks (43-30) on Tuesday, then wrap up their seeding games against the Brooklyn Nets (34-46) on Thursday night.