The Memphis Grizzlies have knocked off the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs in the past week. Those wins, both after the team learned Rudy Gay would not return this season due to shoulder surgery, have greatly boosted the odds Memphis will find itself in the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2006. After the Grizzlies' win over the Spurs on Sunday and the Houston Rockets' tough loss to the Miami Heat, Basketball-Reference.com's Playoff Probabilities Report gives Memphis a 92 percent likelihood of making the postseason.
Memphis has a 2.5-game lead on Houston with eight games remaining. Only three of the Grizzlies' remaining games feature opponents with winning records: the New Orleans Hornets twice and the Portland Trail Blazers once. If Houston was going to gain by watching Memphis lose, the past week would have been the opportunity. Instead, in a brutal three-game stretch against the league's best, the Grizzlies lost only to the Chicago Bulls (and even then by only three points).
The Rockets actually have nearly as good odds of knocking out the New Orleans Hornets as they do the Grizzlies. The Hornets are 42-32, 3.5 games ahead of Houston. But New Orleans lost David West last week, and faces a rather daunting schedule, with dates against the Blazers, Mavericks and Grizzlies twice. The Rockets and Hornets hook up on April 6; if Houston can continue to win, that game could decide the No. 8 seed.